Skip to Content

Float Plans: How They Provide Safety In Case of Accidents

Sailors, pilots, explorations, fishers, household members, and a group of persons in the forest for whatsoever always have a language, coded language to use for communication.

The most important coded language is used, especially during emergencies. For all groups of persons mentioned above, a term is used to describe the form of a communication plan. If you are a kayak fan, you must have heard of the phrase float plan. 

This is the communication plan between boaters and their loved ones. This plan is usually left behind and carries information in case of emergencies. If you want to learn more about this topic, you are right.

Please take a moment to get yourself informed as we provide all you need to know.

What is a float plan?

A float plan is usually a document that contains all information about your journey. It is a road map of where you will be boating, when, for how long, with whom, and whom to contact in case of any emergency.

It is a blueprint of your boating trip. Therefore, with your float plan in hand, one should be capable of following your footprints and having some knowledge of your activities. 

Your float plan should carry some vital information concerning your trip and should be simple and clear to follow without any ambiguity. This definition takes us to the next important aspect of a float plan.

What information should your float plan contain?

This is the foundation of a float plan. Without it, there is no float plan. Information concerning your vessel, what safety equipment you have on your vessel, passenger information, and your trip details should be provided.

A documented version of the information similar to the below can be useful to help someone find you in the case of problems.  

Your boat details

  • Name your boat,
  • Boat’s registration number.
  • Boat type; power, sail, paddle.
  • Size of the boat.
  • Color, year, and make of your boat.
  • engine type,
  • Features unique to your boats, like a flag or wakeboard tower.

 Information about passengers

  •  Boat operator’s name, address, and telephone number,
  • How many are passengers are on board, their names, address, and telephone numbers,
  • the person to contact in case of emergency for all aboard.

Details of boat safety equipment

  • Audio and visual distress signals,
  • Anchor, navigation equipment, charts, maps, radar,
  • Number and color of life jackets you are using onboard.

 Trip description

  • Day/time of trip departure and intended return,
  • Proposed route,
  • Emergency Instruction.

The float plan you prepare is not your document. You are to hand it over to someone you trust and know can get help should you fall behind the plan and or not return.

Who keeps your float plan?

After making sure your float plan has every detail, you file it with a loved one. It can be a family member, a friend or a colleague, or anyone you trust can contact the United States coast guard, in case of an emergency.

It would help if you never mistook filing your float plan directly with the US coast guard- they act upon a distress call, so they can’t call themselves. And besides, they are not your loved ones but people on duty. It will be helpful if you fill out this form well ahead of your journey.

In the case of a larger vessel with many people on board, the boat operator has an obligation to put up a float plan for the trip. However, from the float plan provided by the boat operator, you should still extract yours and hand it over to your “Mr. reliable.”

One piece of advice that can be helpful is “never give your plan to someone to give to the reliable person in question.

Although a float plan must not be formal, use a language that can be understood by anyone looking at the plan.

What is the reason for filing a float plan?

Float plans are entirely for your safety and to help your family and others in an emergency.

  • If something happens on the water, such as a storm, your family and the search team authority will have a perfect idea of where to begin their search. The plan guides your family and others from wandering off and getting into avoidable troubles.
  • Your float plan keeps your family updated about you and whether or not to raise the alarm. 
  • The float plan makes it easy for the search team where and when to go in case of any search. 
  • Furthermore, it will be helpful as they will know who and who to consult for additional information.
  • In addition, it helps them know what to look out for, the audio and visual signals, such as the flag color, boat color, and others.
  • With the number of passengers on board known, they can adequately get every human and material resource needed for the number of persons on board.
  • The information about where you are boating will help your search team know whether additional expertise is needed to recruit the rescue team.
  • Your float plan helps serve time and resources and prevents worry and heartache.

In one statement, you make a float plan to help others help you in an emergency.

Accidents usually do not occur because the situation is really bad. They don’t occur because people are careless.

Most of the time, they occur, or the fatality increases because those involved panicked, got worried, or had less information to work on.

With a float plan available, worry and anxiety are reduced, making for a more organized search and limiting the occurrence or fatality of accidents.


Kayakers may not be the only group of persons who should make a float plan. Another group of persons included: Canoeists, Rowers, Sail boaters, Stand-up paddlers, Rafters, Power boaters, Private charter boat services, Cruisers, Sports, anglers and hunters, Jet skiers, and water skiers.

All of these persons can be involved in any form, wondering where their field of activity is. 

While kayaking, your safety in case of any eventuality depends on the information you provide on your float plan, how accurate it is, and how simple it can be read and followed.

Therefore, it will be helpful to take your time and provide all information in detail that can help in such eventualities.