What is a Float Plan?

When traveling, it is wise to alert someone of your whereabouts. This is the purpose of a float plan. Even if you will be going on a short journey on a small recreational boat, it is important to let someone know where you expect to be and when you are expected to return. For longer trips, a float plan is more detailed. A float plan is a written document with information that will enable someone to track you down if you do not return as expected.

The plan can be left with a friend or your marina. Let them know they should notify the Coast Guard or other appropriate rescue authority if you do not return within a reasonable time after your intended arrival. If plans change, it is important to let the person holding your float plan know, be it an alternate destination or a change in departure or arrival time. A float plan should contain the following:

  • A description of the boat, including the number, size, make, capacity, horsepower, and type of engine
  • Who is on-board and their emergency contact information
  • Intended destination, including the route and planned departure and arrival time
  • Safety equipment on board

If possible, include a photograph of the boat in the plan.

Safe Travels

Preparing a float plan is one of the best practices to ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience. Other practices include making sure that all systems are working properly, including the engine, navigation, and communication systems. In addition, be sure there is adequate safety equipment on-board and that it is in good working order. Examples of appropriate equipment include:

  • Anchor
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlight
  • Dewatering device
  • Food and water
  • Distress signal equipment
    • Visual signals can be made using electric distress lights at night, flags during daylight, aerial or handheld flares, or signal mirror
    • Audible signals can be made using a bell, horn, or whistle
  • Raft/dinghy
  • Life jackets of the appropriate size for all passengers

Taking these simple precautions will ensure a safe return if your boat gets into trouble.

Search and Rescue

If a boat does not arrive as expected and it cannot be reached through available communication systems, then you likely have a genuine concern for the safety or welfare of those on-board. In this case, the person holding your float plan will need to alert the appropriate rescue authority of the issue. Use the float plan to initiate a report to the contacts listed on the plan. Determine if they have any information regarding the whereabouts of the boat and/or passengers. If not, verify the amount of time the boat is overdue. Contact the appropriate rescue authority that responds to marine emergencies and give them the information you know about the delay, as well as information contained in the float plan.

Cape May Maritime Injury Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Advocate for the Safety of Maritime Workers

If you were injured at sea, contact a knowledgeable Cape May maritime injury lawyer at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. today. We will review your case and fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call us at 888-999-1962 or submit an online form to set up a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Wildwood and Cape May.