Float Plan Basics

An important step in making the most of your time on the water is keeping safety top of mind. Not only should you think about yourself, your vessel and any passengers onboard, but you’ll also want to look out for other boaters.

Believe it or not, the first step towards being a responsible boater starts before you even leave the dock—and that’s filing a float plan. 

What is a Float Plan?

A float plan is basically an outline of your planned day on the water, which is given to a trusted friend, family member, or even your marina manager—do not directly file your float plan with the U.S. Coast Guard. By handing over your float plan before you depart, you’ll have reassurance that in case of an emergency, your float plan can be given to the authorities to help start their search.

If by some chance your plans change, whether it’s a change in destination, timeframe of the trip, or even due to inclimate weather, be sure to update your point of contact so they’re aware.

speedboat in the water

What Information Should Be Included in a Float Plan?

There are five essential pieces of information that should be included in a float plan:

  • A description of your vessel;
  • The numbers of passengers onboard;
  • Your projected route, or final destination;
  • Up-to-date contact information;
  • Date and time detailing your planned outing—including departure and return times.

It’s always a good idea to file a float plan regardless of what kind of boating you’ll be doing. From recreational day boaters, to kayakers, jet skiers, stand-up paddleboarders, and of course, long-distance cruisers and overnighters, a float plan can provide you and your loved ones with that extra peace of mind.

When creating your float plan, remember that the more details you include the better. When providing a description of your vessel, be sure to include the manufacturer, color, size, engine information, VIN (vessel identification number), and registration number. You can also include the names, genders, and age information on all your passengers, as well as details about your departure marina or boat launch.

Finding a Float Plan Template

There’s no official document or formal process that all boaters must use in order to file their float plan. Luckily, if you have downloaded KnowWake to your smartphone, we’ve made it really easy to submit a float plan with a simple click.

To do so…

  1. Open KnowWake and look for the main menu on the left.
  2. Scroll down the main menu until you see the item “Float Plan.”
  3. When you click on “Float Plan,” you’ll see the following text on your screen prompting you to click “OK”: “Filing a float plan with someone you know can greatly increase the chance of being rescued in case of an emergency. Click OK to fill out a quick email before you go.”
  4. Once you click “OK,” a new window on your phone will open to a drafted email template for your float plan.
  5. All you have to do is fill in your details, determine who you will send it to, and that’s it!

You can also find float plan templates online that you can fill in and print out, including templates from the USCG Auxiliary, BoatUS, and Sea Tow.

Ready to submit your own float plan to detail your next boat outing?
Get started by downloading KnowWake today!