Boating involves a certain amount of risk. That’s why there are measures and laws in place to help people boat more safely. Vessels are required to have certain safety equipment on board, and boaters need a license in order to operate their craft.
While float plans aren’t required by law, they are a simple safety measure that can make all the difference in the event of an emergency. Find out what float plans are, what they should include and how to file them in this article from the boating safety experts at Drive a Boat Canada.
A float plan (also known as a trip plan) is a document like a flight plan that boaters file with someone on shore before taking a boat trip. Boaters are encouraged to file a float plan before every excursion so that the authorities can use it to facilitate search and rescue operations in the event of an emergency. No matter how short your trip will be, a float plan is a great way to make sure that you can be found if anything untoward happens.
Boating float plans can be more or less detailed, depending on how long you’re planning to be away. If you’re just going out on the lake for a few hours, jotting a quick note about where you’re going and when you plan to be back will usually suffice.
Coast guards and other boating authorities often have their own lists of what to include on a float plan, and each one is slightly different. The important thing to remember is that the more pertinent information you include, the better your chances will be if an emergency occurs.
Here is a list of vital information to include on your float plan if you intend to be away for any significant length of time:
Generally, float plans are left with someone you know who can contact a Rescue Coordination Centre or search and rescue team on your behalf if you fail to arrive at your destination. However, they can also be filed with a marina or your local Canadian Coast Guard detachment. Transport Canada has created a handy boating trip plan form that can be filled out online and emailed to your designated person.
Note that it is extremely important to notify your designated person of any changes to your boating plans and inform them promptly when you return. Otherwise, search and rescue operations may be deployed needlessly.
Float plans are great tools that give search and rescue teams the information they need to help you if anything goes awry during your boating trip. Leave your float plan with someone you trust and rest easy knowing that you have given the authorities the best chance of finding you in the event of an emergency.
Learn more about boating safety with Drive a Boat Canada’s online boating course. Passing the exam at the end of the course is the simplest way to get your boating license, which you’ll need in order to operate a boat on Canadian waters.