The Float Plan is a required document for any boat. It allows the Coast Guard to know who is on board, where they are going, and when they intend to return. That way if you don’t make it back, they can come looking for you.
There’s also a lot of other information included in a float plan that will help them find your vessel if it ever goes missing while out at sea like the size of your boat or how many people are aboard so they know what kind of resources need to be deployed.
The best thing about this blog post? You’ll learn how important float plans are and all the things that should go into them.
A float plan should contain the below information
A float plan must have the name, contact number, address, and a physical description of the operator. A copy of the operator’s registration (Boat Title) must be included on a float plan.
A boat’s description should include the boat type, make, model, color, size, vessel identification number, and license plate number.
A cell phone number and a VHF radio channel should be in the “contact information” section of a float plan.
The crew’s age and gender should also be included in the plan.
A boat operator’s route plan should consist of the travel times along with any stops that will be made.
A description of the types and amount of safety equipment must be included on a float plan. A vessel will normally have its location updated every fifteen minutes or so using an AIS device that is attached to the boat and then transmitted to AIS receivers that are located throughout coastal waters. AIS also transmits navigational information, such as your speed, course, heading, and position updates, just in case you need help.
A VHF radio channel that will be monitored while the boat is in operation must be mentioned and a timeframe for the outing should also be included in the document along with specifics on how long a person can stay out and where they should return to.
A departure date, arrival date, and the proposed route must also be included in a float plan.
Boat locations such as latitude and longitude should be included on a float plan.
Do you need a float plan?
A float plan is a document that gives out detailed information about the boat and its voyage. A person can never tell if they will encounter an emergency situation, for instance, boat capsizing or getting lost out at sea due to bad weather conditions and possible injuries. So it’s important to include as much information on a float plan as you possibly can in order to assist the Coast Guard in locating your boat and saving you.
A good float plan does not only ensure the safety of a vessel, but it also saves lives. A float plan can help save money and time when it comes to search rescue operations as well because this document gives out detailed information about the boat so rescuers will know where they are to send help. A float plan is not just for pleasure boating, either. A float plan can also be required in order to travel on ferries, kayaks, or fishing vessels as well so it’s really important that you have one before you head out of the harbor.
Closeout a float plan properly
When you are on the shore, and thus a float plan is no longer needed, be sure to close it out properly. A final position should be left as soon as the boat docks or anchors in a harbor for the last time. A final position on a float plan can be used to establish liability in case of damage or injury.
An official and clean closing-out procedure should always be followed when you’re nearing your destination, taking shelter, anchoring, docking, or any other situation that would require this process to take place.
Never leave a float plan open because this can cause confusion. A float plan should be closed out by the operator and it should never be signed off by someone else.
You can get hardcopy or digital versions of a float plan. An online form is easy to access and can be filled out quickly, but hardcopy versions are more long-lasting. The USCG Auxiliary offers an app for float plan creation. A smartphone device could be very advantageous to use due to the fact that a person can edit and update it whenever necessary as well as store a copy for future use.
Hand over float plan
When you create a float plan you need to be sure that it’s easy for rescuers to read. A good way to make your float plan easily readable is to use short sentences and words. A person should never type out just abbreviations or codes because these are hard to understand for people who aren’t familiar with them.
A friend, family, a neighbor, or anyone else you know who’s on the shore should receive a copy of your float plan if you hand one out. A float plan should be handed out whether or not the operator is in any sort of trouble. A safety-conscious person would give a copy to anyone they meet on the water that might be able to help in case an emergency situation arises.
A person needs to be careful when handling these out since there is no way of knowing who will have access to your information and personal details. A person should always make sure that the information on a float plan is accurate and up to date. If a contact number or other address information needs to be changed, use a new piece of paper and immediately discard the old one when you’re done. A good float plan should also have information about possible hazards present in your area as well in case of an boating accident or emergency situation.
A float plan should contain the following information to help in case of an emergency. What is your boat’s name, how many people are on board, who is driving, and what type of vessel? Is there a radio onboard or any life jackets that can be reached easily if needed? Do you have contact information for all those on board with means to call them back home if necessary?
File your float plan: https://floatplancentral.cgaux.org/