As a service within the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Coast Guard is committed to the protection and
safety of America; and as such has established many guide lines to ensure boating safety
Following those recommended guide lines would include utilizing a
USCG Float Plan.
The U.S. Coast Guard refers to their float plan
as the world’s only life-saving device on paper because no other float plan in the world speaks to both the preparer and the
holder of the plan.
Once the boat has been registered, licensed, insured. All
required safety equipment is on board, a free
vessel safety check has been performed by a USCG approved examiner – and before launching - a float plan should be
filled out and left with a trusted individual such as a family member, friend, a neighbor, the marina operator, or
a park ranger.
In the event of an emergency, there are many details the USCG and other authorities would need to begin a search
and rescue. The USCG Float Plan, filled out in its entirety, would ensure all the needed information be in hand.
When preparing the float plan, the level of detail will depend on the kind of activity being planned. There are
two methods recommended by the USCG to figure this out:
1- The General Purpose Planning method is reusable, perfect for the short – one day or less trip. It is the
faster of the two types of plans to do and it still provides the information a search and rescue team would need in an
2- The Trip Specific Planning method is for a one-time use, for long even multi-day trips, it takes more time
and thought to prepare depending on the complexity of the trip. Most importantly – provides all the necessary
information a search and rescue team would need.
The front side of the plan is where all the pertinent information will go; details about the boat itself, the
people on board, equipment, and itinerary. Fill it out to completion because the more information is passed on to
those who will help, the faster help will come.
On the back of the float plan form is the Boating Emergency Guide, this is intended for the person who was
trusted with the float plan and will give them step-by-step instructions on how to proceed.
The float plan is another aid made available by the USCG to ensure boating safety.
Not only to protect those on the vessel, but to protect the investment, too. Most boat insurance
companies will appreciate the use of the float plan, as well.