What Should a Boater Do With a Float Plan?

For those who love the open water, boating is an exhilarating activity. But with the thrill comes the responsibility of ensuring safety for yourself and your passengers. One essential tool for any boater is a float plan. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice, knowing what a float plan is and what to do with it can be a lifesaver—literally. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what a boater should do with a float plan.

What is a Float Plan?

A float plan is a document that outlines the details of your boating trip. It includes crucial information such as:

  • The vessel’s description (type, size, color, registration number).
  • Names and contact details of all passengers.
  • The intended route and destinations.
  • Expected departure and return times.
  • Details of safety equipment on board.
  • Emergency contact information.

The purpose of a float plan is to provide rescuers with the necessary information to find you quickly in case of an emergency.

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Why is a Float Plan Important?

  1. Enhanced Safety: A float plan ensures that someone on land knows your whereabouts and expected return. This is crucial in case you encounter any difficulties while on the water.
  2. Swift Rescue Operations: In the unfortunate event that you do not return as planned, a float plan gives rescuers a starting point, making search and rescue operations more efficient.
  3. Peace of Mind: Knowing that there is a plan in place can provide peace of mind for both the boater and their loved ones.

Steps to Create a Float Plan

Creating a float plan is straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Gather Information: Collect all necessary information about your boat, passengers, and the trip.
  2. Use a Template: There are numerous templates available online which can help you ensure you don’t miss any critical information.
  3. Fill in Details: Complete the template with all relevant information about your trip.

What to Do With a Float Plan?

  1. Share with a Responsible Person: The most important step after creating a float plan is to share it with a responsible person on land. This could be a family member, friend, or marina operator. Ensure that the person knows what to do if you don’t return on time.
  2. Review and Update Regularly: If there are any changes to your plan, such as an altered route or delayed return time, update the float plan and inform the responsible person immediately.
  3. Keep a Copy on Board: Have a copy of the float plan on board your vessel. This can be useful if you need to reference it during your trip.
  4. Educate Your Passengers: Ensure that everyone on board is aware of the float plan and understands its importance. In an emergency, passengers should know what the plan entails.
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In Case of an Emergency

If you find yourself in an emergency situation, follow these steps:

  1. Stay Calm: Keeping a clear head is crucial.
  2. Communicate: Use your marine radio or any other communication device to alert the authorities. Provide them with details from your float plan.
  3. Follow Safety Procedures: Adhere to safety protocols and use your safety equipment as needed.


A float plan is an indispensable part of boating safety. It is a simple yet effective tool that can make a significant difference in an emergency. By taking the time to create, share, and update a float plan, you enhance the safety of your boating adventures and ensure a swift response in case of an emergency. So, before you set sail on your next adventure, make sure you have a well-prepared float plan and share it with someone responsible on land. Safe boating!

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