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.

Vessel Safety Decal

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 emergency.

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.

Float Plan Front Page

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.

Boating Emergency Guide

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.