You may be asking yourself whether creating a float plan is a waste of your valuable time. According to the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, hundreds of lives are lost unnecessarily due to preventable boating accidents in U.S. waters every year.
Add this to the thousands of injuries sustained, as well as the millions of dollars worth of property damage, and it’s not difficult to understand why preparing a float plan is so important.
If you’re faced with an emergency situation, there are so many facts that must be remembered, and then conveyed to others. If you don’t have a float plan set out, you will be reliant on someone else to remember all the detailed information that rescuers will need in order to find you.
Safe boating means preparing a well set out float plan, so if the worst happens, you have the best chance of getting out of the situation unscathed. Preparing a float plan before each and every trip on the waters will give both you, your family, and friends complete peace of mind.
All boaters should prepare float plans, including:
- Sport fishermen
- Jet skiers
- Water skiers
- Private charter boat services
- Family day cruisers
- Power boaters
- Sail boaters
Generally speaking, the vessel skipper prepares the float plan. However, any crew member can prepare, and file the document. It is good practice for crew members to coordinate the preparation, and filing of the float plan along with the skipper.
You should think of your float plan as a lifesaving device on paper. Being a responsible boater is not just about getting from place to place safely. As an owner or operator of a vessel, it is important to ensure that all safety equipment is in good working order.
Problems, and issues can and do occur at sea, or on the water, and these can be dangerous, or even fatal. Whether you’re planning a short afternoon trip, or you’re intent on embarking on an ocean crossing, the key is to ensure you have one, or two float plan guardians on land.
Leaving your plan with people who know you well, makes sense, as they are familiar with you as an individual, and consequently will be more alert to potential issues, than people who don’t know you well.
If you don’t check in with them at the expected time, they will be armed with everything they need to request help from the authorities, including information on you, and your passengers. The information included in your plan will enable the coast guard to identify your vessel, know what gear to have on hand, as well as knowing where to search for you.
You can download the latest version of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary float plan here.
In addition to having a float plan, it’s essential to have adequate boat insurance so you can enjoy your time out on the water knowing that you’re covered.