One of the most important pieces of safety equipment isn’t on the boat—it’s a float plan.
A written float plan records where you are going and when you plan to return. It contains information that could prove useful if you do not check in at your estimated time of return.
Too many times, we find out a day later that someone didn’t come home, and now they’ve been adrift for 12 to 16 hours. It makes it very difficult to narrow down a search pattern and find a boater quickly.
– Lt. Mike Cortese, US Coast Guard
Who needs a float plan?
Anyone who’s planning to spend time on the water needs to file a float plan. Don’t think that this is only for those with big expensive boats. A float plan is equally effective for the owner of a 10 foot kayak as it is for a 90 foot sport-fishing vessel or luxury yacht.
- Sport fisherman
- Jet Skiers
- Water skiers
- Family day cruisers
- Private charter boat services
- Sail boaters
- Power boaters
A float plan may save your life
There are several float plan templates out there, but we recommend using the one provided by the US Coast Guard. In an emergency, they’re probably going to be the ones helping you out.
Once completed, share your float plan with your local marina as well as a couple of close friends or relatives. If you don’t check in from your trip as expected, they will have sufficient information to contact authorities and request help and/or an immediate search.
Be sure to add photos of your vessel to your float plan file. This will help search and rescue teams dismiss other boats and zero in on your vessel more quickly.