What is a float plan and do I need one? Learn what you need to do to boat safely in New Jersey
Why should you take the time to prepare a float plan? Easy - there are just too many things that need to be accurately remembered and conveyed in an emergency situation. Without a float plan you are counting on someone else, a friend, neighbor, or family member to remember detailed information rescue personnel will need in order to find you. Information that can make a difference in the outcome.
If you are going for just a few hours on your boat, let someone know where you expect to be and when you expect to return. If you plan a longer cruise, leave a copy of a written float plan with your marina, yacht club, or friend. A float plan includes a description of your boat, who is on board, a description of the safety equipment you are carrying, where you expect to be, and when you expect to be there. Instruct the person holding the float plan to notify the Coast Guard or other appropriate agency if you do not return within a reasonable time after your scheduled arrival (taking into account weather, etc.). When you arrive at your destination, or if your plans change, notify the person holding your float plan to avoid unnecessary worry and possible waste of search and rescue resources.
Who should prepare a float plan? Don't think for a minute that this is a device only for those with big expensive boats. A Float Plan is equally effective for the owner of a 8 foot kayak or flat-bottom skiff as it is for a 50-foot express cruiser, or a 120 foot fishing vessel or luxury yacht. Typically, the operator of the vessel is the individual who prepares the Float Plan. However, any member of the crew can be assigned the preparation and filing duty.
So, what kind of boaters prepare float plans? Canoeists Family day cruisers Hunters Jet Skiers Kayakers Power boaters Private charter boat services Rafters Rowers Sail boaters Sport fisherman Water skiers
There is no special or official form that you must use for a float plan, though you may find convenient pre-printed ones available in boating supply stores and catalogs, or you can generate a form using this link: http://floatplancentral.cgaux.org/download/USCGFloatPlan.pdf.
The Coast Guard will not accept float plans. Do not attempt to file the form with the Coast Guard.