What Is a Float Plan & What Information Should Be Included?

A float plan tells someone on land where you are going boating and when you will return. This is important in case you need help while out on the water.

Float Plan

What Is a Float Plan ? You should always leave a float plan with a trusted person before going boating, even if you are only going out for a short time.

The float plan should include:

  • Your name, address, and phone number
  • Names of everyone going with you
  • Where you are going boating (lake, river, etc)
  • When you are leaving
  • When do you expect to be back?
  • Description of your boat (size, color, name)
  • Type of communication devices you have (radio, phone, etc)

Stick to the plan you gave in the float plan. What Is a Float Plan ? Only change it if necessary for safety reasons. This way the person holding your float plan will know if you are late returning.

Having a float plan can help ensure someone knows to send help if you do not come back when expected from your boating trip. Leaving a float plan is an important safety precaution.

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What is a Float Plan?

What is a Float Plan?

A float plan provides details about a recreational boating trip, including the planned route, expected return time, and contact information. Sharing a float plan with a friend or family member ashore allows them to notify authorities quickly if the boat does not return as scheduled, giving search and rescue personnel critical information to begin looking for the missing boaters.

A float plan document should include:

  • Tell about your boat – what kind, color, size, ID number.
  • List who is on your boat – names, ages, and medical needs.
  • Where are you leaving from – marina name, boat ramp name.
  • Your car place and license plate.
  • Where you are going and the way you will go.
  • Times you will call or come back.
  • How to contact you – cell phone, radio, address

A float plan is a paper that tells people where you are going and when you will come back. You can make one if you are going on a boat, a jet ski, a kayak, or any other water thing. You should write as much as you can on the paper, like:

  • What your boat looks like how big, what color, what brand, what kind of boat, how fast it can go, and a number that identifies it.
  • Where you left your car or truck: the name and place of the parking lot or dock, and the number on your car or truck plate.
  • Who is with you on the boat: their names, how old they are, if they are boys or girls, and if they have any health problems or special needs.
  • Where you are going and when you will be back: the places you will visit, the times you will call or text someone, the phone numbers or radios you will use, and the addresses of your homes. Try to be clear and specific.

What is a Float Plan, and how is it helpful? – Kayaking Tips – Kayak …

How and Where Do You File a Float Plan?

Leave your float plan with someone you trust – like family, a close friend, or a marina dock master. Don’t file it directly with the Coast Guard. Give your float plan to your contact before leaving on your trip. This gives them time to understand it and be prepared in case of emergency.

If your boating plans change for any reason – bad weather, boat issues, or you just decide something different – let your float plan contact know immediately. Update them on where you are going and when you’ll be back.

This is very important. If you don’t update your contact, they may call the Coast Guard to start an expensive search mission – even if you’re still at the dock! Avoid this by communicating any changes to your float plan right away. Keeping your designated contact updated ensures they can activate help if truly needed. But it also prevents unnecessary rescues if you simply change your schedule a bit. Updating is a key part of staying safe with a float plan system.

Where Do You Get the Forms to Create a Float Plan?

You can get help to make a paper float plan or fill out a form online. One of the best forms is at USCG Auxiliary Float Plan. This form says that you should NOT give your float plan to the Coast Guard. You should give it to someone you know who can call the Coast Guard if they cannot talk to you. Page 3 tells your person what to do if they need to call for help.

You can also find float plan forms at places that help boats on the water, like BoatUS or SeaTow. Or you can look at your state’s website for boats and water. The USCG Auxiliary has an app too.

What Are My Responsibilities When I File a Float Plan?

Float Plan

Float plans don’t need fancy forms – a quick note works. If you’re anchoring out for the weekend, jot down:

  • Where you’re going
  • Who’s Coming
  • When you leave
  • When you’ll be back

Tell your contact you’ll call when you arrive and when you return. Then actually make those calls – don’t forget!

When your trip is over, close out your float plan. Let your contact know you’re back safe and sound. Never leave a float plan open after you return. Think of a float plan as an insurance policy. It gives you peace of mind that if something goes wrong out on the water, help can find you. Leaving a plan is a smart safety move for every boating trip.

So keep it casual, but be sure to update your contact. Closing the loop ensures you don’t trigger an unnecessary rescue. Float plans are an easy precaution that can make a big difference in an emergency.

What Information Should a Float Plan Contain?

What Is a Float Plan ? A float plan is a paper that tells people where you are going on the water and when you will come back. Give it to someone who can call for help if you are late. Write these things on the paper:

  • Who you are and how to contact you
  • What your boat looks like and how fast it can go
  • What things do you have to be safe on the water
  • Where you are going and when will you be back
  • Who is with you and what do they look like

Filing A Float Plan

filling float plan

You can make a paper float plan easier by writing these things:

  • Give the paper to someone who cares about you or works at the dock before you go on the water.
  • If something bad happens to you on the water, the person with the paper can tell the Coast Guard where to find you and help you.
  • You should also tell someone who cares about you or works at the dock where you are going on the water and when you will return. If you are late, they can call the Coast Guard to see if you are okay.

Why You Need a Float Plan

When you go out on the water, you should always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back. This is called a float plan. It can save your life if something goes wrong.

For example, maybe the weather is bad or your boat breaks down. You might not be able to paddle back to shore.

What Is a Float Plan if you have a float plan, someone will know what you are missing and where to look for you. You can stay calm and wait for help in a safe place.

Where Can You Find Forms to Create a Float Plan?

A lot of federal parks and stuff make you fill out their float plan form before you head out on the water. But if you’re paddling or boating somewhere else, you gotta make sure to file one yourself.

There are some great float plan templates online that you can use. Those are better than trying to wing it from memory – they’ve got all the important stuff covered that even veteran paddlers might forget.

Most forms are made for boaters, but they work for kayakers too. What Is a Float Plan Bottom line, take a second to find a good float plan template and fill ‘er out. It’s a quick, easy way to look out for your safety in case things go sideways out there.

What Information Should Be Included in a Float Plan?

 Float Plan

What Is a Float Plan ? So Make your float plan as detailed as possible to help rescuers find you if needed.

The key info to include:

  • Where you’ll paddle – list all planned stops like campsites
  • When you arrive and leave each location
  • Departure and return date + exact times

Also give details about:

  • Your kayak – make, model, color
  • Your gear – life jacket color, rain gear, tent color
  • Safety equipment – radio, flares, signal light

The more details like boat color, jacket color, etc. the easier you are to spot from a distance if help is searching. Be sure to list departure and return times. You’re not considered missing until 24 hours after your planned return time.

More detail is better when it comes to float plans. The information can make a big difference in finding you quickly if an emergency happens during your paddling trip.

Finding a Float Plan Template

What Is a Float Plan ? A float plan is a way to tell someone where you are going on the water and when you will come back. It can help you get rescued if you have trouble. You don’t need any special paper or form to make a float plan. If you have KnowWake on your phone, you can send a float plan with one tap.

Start KnowWake and find the menu on the left side. Go down the menu until you find “Float Plan.” Tap on “Float Plan” and you will see a message on your screen that says: “A float plan can save your life if something goes wrong. Tap OK to write a short email before you leave.” 

When you tap “OK,” a new window will show up on your phone with an email ready for your float plan. Just fill in your information, choose who you will send it to, and you’re done! You can also look for float plan templates on the internet that you can write and print, like the ones from USCG Auxiliary, BoatUS, and Sea Tow.

Who Should You File A Float Plan With?

Where to leave your float plan depends on where you’ll be boating. If paddling in a national or state park, file your plan with the ranger station or park office. You probably need a permit anyway, so file the float plan then.

In less regulated areas without stations, leave your plan with someone you trust – a friend or family member. Make sure they know the area and your route. Include all the key details – where, when, return time, boat info, etc. Also, be sure to give them emergency contacts to call if you’re overdue to return from your trip.

Having someone reliable back on land with your float plan details can make all the difference in getting help dispatched quickly if you run into trouble. So know the rules where you’ll paddle, and pick a responsible float plan contact. What Is a Float Plan Giving them the information they’d need in an emergency can give you peace of mind out on the water.

What Are Your Responsibilities After Filing a Float Plan?

A float plan is useless if you don’t follow it. Once you file the plan, stick to it unless it becomes dangerous. Going off course or exploring new areas can be tempting. But if you need help, no one will find you if you’re not where you said you’d be.

If you must change the plan, try to call your emergency contact or the ranger station. Devices like VHF radio, GPS, and inReach let you update your location. The bottom line is to follow your float plan. Staying on course keeps you safe. What Is a Float Plan If you wander, also wander back to where you should be. A solid float plan only works if you stick to the path.

Float Plan Travel Tips

What Is a Float Plan ? These are tips that You and your partner had a long and fun trip on the water. You used a BoatUS float plan to stay safe. You have some tips for other boaters.

  • When you are on the water, try to contact your float plan person by text, email, or phone. Make sure they can hear you.
  • When you get to a new place or leave a place, text or call your float plan person. This is important if you have a long trip with many stops.
  • If your boat has an MMSI number and an AIS system, your float plan person (or someone who can help you) can use a website to see where you are and how you are doing. (But the website might not be updated.) You can get a free MMSI number from BoatUS.
  • If you have a friend boat with you, tell them to make a float plan too. Tell your float plan people that you are with your friend boat and where you are going. This can help if you need help. Also, if both boats have MMSI radios, you can call each other by MMSI number. This way, you don’t use channel 16, which is for emergencies. MMSI calls use channel 70, which is for MMSI.

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