As a paddling enthusiast, you know that safety should always be your top priority. Whether you’re kayaking, canoeing, or paddleboarding, it’s crucial to have a plan in case of an emergency. That’s where a float plan comes in.
Definition of a Float Plan
A float plan is a written document that outlines your trip itinerary, your vessel’s information, and your emergency contact details. In essence, it’s a way to let others know where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and how to find you if something goes wrong.
Importance of Having a Float Plan
Having a float plan isn’t just a good idea – it’s essential. According to the US Coast Guard, over 80% of boating deaths in 2019 occurred when the victims were not wearing a life jacket. A float plan can help prevent accidents by ensuring that someone knows where you are, and when you’re expected to return.
In addition to safety concerns, a float plan can also help with search and rescue efforts if something does go wrong. If you’re overdue from your trip, your emergency contacts can provide important information to the authorities to help locate you.
Finally, creating a float plan is simply good boating practice. It shows that you take your safety seriously and are prepared for the unexpected. Plus, if you’re paddling with others, having a float plan can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect.
In the next sections, we’ll discuss what should be included in a float plan, why you need one, and how to create one. So grab a notepad and let’s get started!
What Should Be Included in a Float Plan?
When creating a float plan, there are several key pieces of information that you should include. By providing as much detail as possible, you can help ensure that your emergency contacts have the information they need to find you if something goes wrong.
Basic Information About the Vessel
The first thing to include in your float plan is basic information about your vessel. This should include the make and model of the boat, its registration number, and any other identifying features. If you’re paddling a kayak or paddleboard, include the color and size as well.
Next, you’ll want to include information about everyone who will be on the trip with you. This should include their names, ages, and contact information. If you’re paddling with someone who has a medical condition or special needs, be sure to include that information as well.
The most important part of your float plan is the trip itinerary. This should include your starting location, your intended route, and your expected time of arrival at your destination. Be sure to include any stops you plan to make along the way, and a backup plan in case of bad weather or other delays.
Emergency Contact Information
Finally, you’ll want to include emergency contact information. This should include the names and phone numbers of at least two people who know about your trip and can contact the authorities if you don’t return on time. Be sure to include their relationship to you (e.g., spouse, parent, friend) and any other relevant information (e.g., their location, their availability).
By including all of this information in your float plan, you can help ensure that you’re prepared for any situation that may arise on your trip. In the next section, we’ll discuss why having a float plan is so important.
Why Do You Need a Float Plan?
A float plan serves several important purposes, all of which revolve around safety. Let’s take a closer look at why you need a float plan.
Perhaps the most obvious reason to have a float plan is for safety. By letting someone know where you’re going, you increase the chances that someone will come looking for you if you don’t return on time. This is especially important if you’re paddling alone – it’s always better to have someone looking out for you.
A float plan can also help in case of an emergency. If you’re injured or incapacitated, your emergency contacts can provide vital information to first responders to help locate you.
Search and Rescue Purposes
In the unfortunate event that something does go wrong, a float plan can be invaluable in search and rescue efforts. Your emergency contacts can provide important information about where you were headed, what your vessel looks like, and other details that can help rescuers find you quickly.
Without a float plan, search and rescue efforts can be delayed and less effective. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you’ll be able to find help on your own if something goes wrong – always have a plan in place.
Encourages Responsible Boating
Finally, having a float plan is simply a responsible boating practice. It shows that you take your safety seriously and are prepared for the unexpected. By creating a float plan, you’re taking an active role in your own safety and the safety of those around you.
In the next section, we’ll discuss how to create a float plan that is effective and comprehensive.
How to Create a Float Plan?
Creating a float plan may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you create a thorough and effective float plan.
Step 1: Start with Basic Information
The first thing you’ll want to do is gather some basic information about your vessel. This should include the make and model, registration number, and any other identifying features. You’ll also want to note the number of people on board and their names, as well as any special equipment you’re carrying.
Step 2: Plan Your Trip Itinerary
Next, you’ll need to plan out your trip itinerary. This should include your starting point, any stops or destinations along the way, and your final destination. Be sure to include dates and times for each leg of your trip.
Step 3: Include Emergency Contact Information
In case of an emergency, it’s important to include emergency contact information in your float plan. This should include the name, phone number, and email address of at least one emergency contact.
Step 4: Share Your Float Plan
Once you’ve created your float plan, it’s important to share it with someone you trust. This could be a family member, friend, or marina staff. Make sure they know how to get in touch with you and what to do if you don’t return on time.
Utilizing Online Resources
Creating a float plan doesn’t have to be done on paper – there are plenty of online resources available to help you create a digital version. The US Coast Guard offers a free online float plan generator, which can be accessed on their website. There are also several mobile apps available that can help you create and share your float plan with ease.
By following these steps and utilizing online resources, you can create a comprehensive float plan that will help keep you safe on the water. Remember, having a plan in place is one of the most important things you can do to ensure a safe and enjoyable paddling experience.
Tips for Using a Float Plan Effectively
Now that you understand the importance of having a float plan, let’s discuss some tips for using it effectively.
Keep it Updated
Your float plan is only useful if it’s up to date. Make sure to review and revise your plan regularly, especially if your trip itinerary or vessel information changes. It’s also a good idea to communicate any updates to your emergency contacts, so they have the most accurate information.
Share with Others
Don’t keep your float plan a secret! Share it with your emergency contacts, friends, or family members who aren’t going on the trip with you. Make sure they know where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and how to contact you or the authorities in case of an emergency.
In today’s digital age, there are many ways to utilize technology to enhance your float plan. Consider using a mobile app or online tool to create and share your plan. Some apps even allow you to set automatic alerts to your emergency contacts if you’re overdue from your trip.
You can also use technology to track your location in real-time. Some GPS devices or smartphone apps allow you to share your location with others, so they can monitor your progress and know if you deviate from your planned route.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your float plan is an effective tool to keep you safe on the water. Remember, safety should always be your top priority when it comes to paddling, and a float plan is just one way to stay prepared.
In conclusion, a float plan is a critical component of safe paddling. It provides vital information about your trip itinerary, your vessel, and your emergency contacts, ensuring that you’re prepared for the unexpected.
Remember, creating a float plan isn’t just a good idea – it’s essential. Not only does it help prevent accidents and aid in search and rescue efforts, but it also shows that you take your safety seriously.
At East Coast Paddle Sports, we’re passionate about paddling, but we’re even more passionate about doing it safely. That’s why we recommend that all paddlers create a float plan before hitting the water.
So next time you head out on the water, take a few extra minutes to create a float plan. Your loved ones – and your fellow paddlers – will thank you for it.