Before hitting the water, it’s important to make a few basic safety preparations. Do you have all of the necessary equipment and supplies? Is your boat in good condition? Is the weather looking perilous? One of the most important preparations to make before any outing is a float plan.
What is a float plan?
A float plan is an account of important information meant to be shared with at least one off-water contact. In the event of an emergency, that person will be able to report the information to the proper authorities, thus aiding in recue.
What information should my float plan contain?
Every float plan should include the following:
A detailed boat description (include make, model, year size, colors, engine type, and any other information you believe may be helpful
Boat registration information
A list of any and all safety equipment onboard (PDFs, flares, whistles, bells, horns, rafts, paddles, personal safety beacons, anchors, flashlights, food and water, etc.
A list of any and all communication equipment onboard
A list of all passengers onboard (including the skipper,) along with contact information and at least one off-water contact (family or friends) for each passenger.
A trip-itinerary (including hour of departure and estimated hour of return)
A description of all cars left off water (at the docking site, for example) along with parking location.
Contact information for all proper authorities in the region (coastguard, police, fire department, etc.)
Even if you are only going out for a few hours, using a float plan is highly recommended
Many quick and easy float plan templates are available free online. You could even send out your float plan via you smartphone—meaning minimal effort is involved. Though it may seem unnecessary, the truth is that providing your trip information could one day be the difference between life and death.