Have You Updated Your Float Plan Lately?

Captain John from www.skippertips.com explains the in-and-outs of creating a thorough float plan.

Learn to sail like a pro when you leave a clear, concise float plan with a friend, relative or neighbor. That way, in case you fail to show up when you say you will, they can contact the authorities with solid information. Rescue teams need this to lay out search routes, plans, teams, and coordinate with different agencies. Make sure you include these seven vital points in any float plan.

Boat Description and Three-Way Photo: Describe your boat in detail. Give name, length overall, color and type. Include projections such as bowsprits, wind-vanes, dinghy davits or boomkins, along with the make, model, and color of your dinghy. Add description of dodgers, awnings, weather cloths, enclosures and the color of each. Write down the registration number or documentation number. Add photos to enhance the descriptions. Take three outside shots; bow, beam, and stern.

Persons in Crew: Include name, gender, age, address, driver’s license number, passport number, and a clear photo of skipper and crew. Ask each crew member if they have any medical conditions that require medication or monitoring. Describe the exact name and dosage of medications required by each person. Rescue teams need to know this to provide care for medical emergencies.

Realize that military flight surgeons or other medical professionals may be able to provide assistance via consultation on the radio in time-critical medical emergencies (i.e. phone patches through a US Coast Guard Rescue Center). The more they know ahead of time, the better equipped they will be to make the best decision for an injured or sick crew member.

Sailing Route and “Pull Offs”: Describe the proposed route from start to finish. Include harbors of refuge along coastal routes that you plan to use as “pull offs”–safe havens–in case you need to divert course to wait for an unexpected storm to pass by or to get repairs. This will help rescue crews narrow the search area and brief local authorities in these areas.

Emergency Provisions: What emergency gear do you carry. Include color and type of personal flotation devices (pfd), radio(s), EPIRB, liferaft (with color and model/type), flare kits, survival suits, exposure suites, flotation bags, de-watering and bilge pumps. Describe the contents of your ditch-kit.

Navigation Gear: Start with the basics–nautical charts and publications. What chart portfolios are aboard in case the electronics fail. These could include the popular “chart kits” or a block of charts for a group of islands or operating area (i.e. southern New England). Next, give details for electronic navigation equipment aboard: GPS (include installed and hand-held), Chart Plotter, radar, and other electronic navigation devices.

Propulsion–Sail, Inboard and Outboard Auxiliary: Describe sail color, mainsail numbers and logos, and sailing rig (sloop, cutter, ketch, yawl). Provide inboard and outboard engine manufacturer, horsepower, and number of cylinders. How much fuel do you carry aboard (include Jerry-Jugs and color of the jugs)?

Land Vehicles: Pass along a description of your automobile if you parked it at a marina; make and model along with the license plate number and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Leave a set of keys with a relative or trusted friend.

Use these easy sailing tips for peace-of-mind when you leave for a day sail or longer cruise or voyage. That way, you will know that friends and family will have the information they need in case the unexpected comes your way!

Courtesy of www.skippertips.com

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