Trip Planning & Preparation

Filing a Float Plan

A Float Plan, sometimes also referred to as a trip or sail plan, should always be filed before an operator heads out onto the water. Float Plans act as a rescue tool for authorities in case an accident occurs. This is true for boating trips of all complexities and lengths, even if a trip is just for an hour or two. For longer trips, daily position reports should also be filed.

An adequate Float Plan includes pertinent trip information including:

  • Operator name and contact information
  • Boat information including registration numbers, type and distinguishing details
  • A listing of safety equipment on board
  • A listing of passengers on board
  • Plan details such as:
    • Departure time and location
    • Proposed route
    • Time of expected return

Though Float Plans can be communicated through paper, telephone, emails, text messages or other forms of communication, it may be easiest for boaters to keep a stack of Float Plan forms on hand. A paper Float Plan can be left with a friend, relative or local marina and will make pertinent information readily available in case of an emergency.

To avoid the launch of an unnecessary search, which wastes search and rescue resources, operators should always let the plan holder know when they have returned or arrived safely at the next stop, or if the trip has been delayed for any reason.

To expedite the process of creating a plan, the U.S. Coast Guard has made Float Plan forms available for photocopy and use on the U.S. Coast Guard website at www.uscgboating.org