According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the formal definition of a float plan is:
“a written statement (as by a skipper) of the details of an intended voyage (as of a boat or watercraft) usually filed with a family member, friend, neighbor and/or marina operator on shore; a document that specifically describes the vessel, equipment, crew, and itinerary of a planned voyage.”
A float plan is a simple way to document a kayaking or other boating trip in the event of an emergency. Should a kayaker fail to return from a trip, a float plan can provide detailed information that rescue personnel need in order to locate and assist boaters.
Typically, each kayaker, or the leader of a kayaking group is the individual who prepares the Float Plan. However, any member of the group can be assigned the preparation and filing duty.
There are a variety of float plan forms available. The Coast Guard Auxiliary Association offers an online float plan tool at floatplancentral.org
The site allows boaters to create a basic float plan ahead of time and save it. Kayakers can then login and update it before each trip. The site can even email the completed plan to a contact who is designated to follow up should you not return or check-in as planned.
To learn more about float plans, visit www.floatplancentral.org