BoatTest.com recently featured a Boating Tip that is essential to being a safe boater: Having a Float Plan.
A Float Plan is basically your boating trip itinerary with all the pertinent information needed to find you if something were to go wrong. The Float Plan should be filled out and left with a trusted friend or family member every time you're heading out to open waters. This will give rescue operations a head start in finding your party.
According to the original article on BoatTest.com, if you are lost at sea The Coast Guard will ask questions like:
- Where did the boat leave from?
- Where does he/she usually fish (or boat)?
- What is the description of the vessel?
- What kind of rescue equipment is on board?
- What time did he/she depart and when are they expected to return?
- Does the overdue person have any medical conditions?
The answers could be the difference between life and death.
Improve your chances of being found by leaving this useful information behind with a trusted person. The USCG website advises that a Float Plan is applicable for EVERY kind of boater, not just those with bigger seafaring yachts (even kayakers could use one!).
We took the liberty of recreating the simple Float Plan from BoatTest.com to make it interactive so you can fill it out right on your computer. Download a simple Float Plan here. If you want something more robust, download the USCG Float Plan to print and fill out by hand. You can even make your own, if you really wish, following these templates. The important thing is that you leave as much information as possible so people can find you in case of an emergency.
Safe boating is happy boating!