Whether your boating preference is for sail, power or paddle, at some point you could find yourself in trouble and needing rescue. If that time comes, will someone know where to look for you? Does anyone know where you went, or where your favorite fishing spot is? Is there anyone who knows you are overdue or possibly in trouble? You can’t be rescued unless someone knows to search for you.
The search part is the most difficult, when it comes to search and rescue. If you can’t be found, rescue won’t happen. So, how do you help with the search, so the rescue can be easier? You prepare a float plan prior to departure.
A float plan includes a description of your boat, where you are going, and what time you should be back. Leave this plan with someone in case you don’t return on time. It indicates to searchers what to look for and where to look. Plans don’t need to be overly complicated, but should include some key components.
- Description of your boat, type, length, color, with its registration number and name.
- A description of your car, its license number and at what marina or launch ramp it’s parked.
- Number of people on board.
- Your departure point.
- Time you are leaving.
- Where you are going.
- Your route.
- When you expect to return and where.
- If you have a marine radio.
- Your cell phone number.
- Your contact on shore and phone number.
- What to do if you don’t return as scheduled.
Leave the float plan with a friend or family member, who you trust to take action once you’re overdue. Your float plan tells the rescuer just where to look. You can print a short float plan with the above information, either pre-entered or completed just prior to the trip.
If this still seems like too much, just tell someone where you are leaving from, and when you will be returning, and what to do if you are overdue. You can find sample float plans online, or use the Coast Guard app, which has a float plan option that allows you to enter your information, and send it to a family member or friend.
No matter how you file your float plan, doing so will help others help you. Remember to let the person with your float plan know when you get home.
By Greg Fonzeno, contributing writer and Acworth resident. He has been a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary since 2008.