How & Why To File A Float Plan
Afloat plan is an outline of your boating itinerary that provides basic informa- tion about your boat and crew, which can reduce the response time of authori- ties, narrow their search area, and potentially save your life. Share your plan,
in writing (though not necessarily on paper), with a reliable person who can be depended on to call the authorities should you not return or check in as planned. Choose
someone who’ll notice if you don’t get back to them.
You, as skipper of the boat, should file a float plan, but it can be filed by a
crewmember. A float plan can be as simple as a hand-written outline for a day trip, or
it can be a more formal document that you create on your computer and forward to a
friend. Go to www.BoatUS.com/Seaworthy/Floatplan to find a basic one. Be sure you
save your most recent one so you can go back and change it for your next trip.
Things To Include In Your Float Plan:
Having your plan saved to your smartphone will allow you to share it with just
about anyone you choose via text or email. You can also download the free U.S. Coast
Guard app to your smartphone, which allows you to create or update a float plan on
the fly and send it to your contacts as often as you need. The more info you include
in your plan, the better. Remember: The plan is only good if you follow it. If your plans
change, notify the person holding your plan to avoid unnecessary worry and the possible waste of search-and-rescue resources. As a courtesy, notify the person holding
your plan of any updates or deviations to the plan. Finally, don’t forget to close out
your plan by notifying those involved that you’ve arrived home safely.
— TED SENSENBRENNER
■ An itinerary of travel times, dates, and
■ The name, age, and experience of those
■ The name and contact information of
someone not on the trip
■ A vessel description, including markings
■ The VHF radio’s MMSI number or call
■ The unique ID numbers for the EPIRB
and all PLBs
■ List additional lifesaving equipment
■ Who to call if you fail to check in as
Popular On BoatUS.Org
■ The new course from the United
States Power Squadrons and BoatU.S.
Foundation, “Planning Your Cruise
– Boating Beyond the Day Trip,” will
teach you how to prepare for longer
trips, including meal planning, crew
selection and prep, choosing your itinerary, dealing with foreign ports and
customs, and even charter planning.
■ Now is a good time to check your
boating equipment, especially your
fire extinguishers, to make sure you
have serviceable units that are readily
accessible. Check out our resources
on fire extinguishers.
The BoatU.S. Foundation, a 501(c)( 3)
nonprofit organization dedicated to
keeping boating safe and clean, is
independently funded by donations
from BoatU.S. members and grants.
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based short message service, or SMS.
If you fail to respond to the check-in, it
sends an SOS text to your designated
contacts. Considering the chances of a
phone being damaged or lost in a boating accident, this provides a valuable
layer of protection that doesn’t depend
on your phone remaining operational.
If you’re unable to respond because the
phone got soaked or lost as the boat
overturned, for example, the SOS still
goes through. The downside is a lack of
location data, but couple Kitestring with
a float plan and it could be a lifesaver.
Kitestring ( www.kitestring.io) basic service ( 15 trips per month with one emergency contact) is free; unlimited service
costs $3 a month.
For more information on
safety apps, read “Apps
to Keep You Safe on the