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How to Prepare a Float Plan

By November 5, 2018Boating
A blue rond boat and a fisherman at sunset on the water in a bay

A float plan is invaluable. It informs your family and friends of your whereabouts while traversing the ocean. Moreover, in case of disaster, becoming adrift atop the waves, a float plan provides search parties with a head start in locating your vessel. Whether you are spending the afternoon atop the water or setting sail for an epic voyage, a float plan is a lifesaver!

Essentially, a float plan is the ships manifest and plot chart. A float plan contains a list of who is aboard the vessel, the reason for the specified course and a detailed route.

What information is needed to create a viable float plan? A float plan must include a phone number to be called in case the boat is overdue in returning, a description of the vessel (it’s best to know the make and model of the boat) and registration number. There are a number of printable float plan forms that may be downloaded, printed and filled out on the world wide web.

Setting sail without a float plan is like driving without insurance. The ocean is unpredictable and although contemporary boats are equipped with the most sophisticated navigational equipment, technology is prone to failure. The Coast Guard deploys float plans to locate missing vessels. According to the United States Coast Guard: “there are just too many facts that need to be accurately remembered and ultimately conveyed in an emergency situation. Information that can make a difference in the outcome.” A detailed float plan may make the difference between living on a deserted island and a quick rescue.

Unfortunately, the United States Coast Guard doesn’t accept float plans everytime you go out, you can’t submit your float plan to the Coastguard in advance. A float plan must be submitted to the Coast Guard, by someone in charge of the float plan, when a ship is overdue.

It’s noted that many captains refuse to take the time to make a float plan. Too often individuals feel that they possess the experience and knowledge to navigate a vessel through any weather, however, the easily filled out form is worth the time spent with pen in hand. Simply, float plans save lives.


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