What an itinerary is to a traveler, a “Float Plan” is to a paddler embarking on an extended kayak trip - only more so. Basically a paddler’s float plan provides information on the classic inquiry questions: who, where, what, and when?
First and foremost is a list of every member of your paddling entourage, last minute cancellations or additions must also be included, this list needs to be current at time of departure.
If you don’t return as planned, rescuers need to know where to look. Try to be specific, perhaps include a map of your proposed routes and take-outs/campsite. Also include, if you can, planned alternate/emergency take-out spots you intend to consider. It’s better to add alternate routes on your map than randomly venture off course once you are on the water. Again, SAR units can then prioritize focusing on intended routes.
This is especially critical for saving time during the search, knowing the size of the group (Who?), your FP should list how many kayaks (singles/doubles), the color of each. Other useful information includes number and color of tents and tarps, anything that might distinguish you from all the others on the water throughout the search area. (and helpful when asking others if they’ve seen you).
Listing the types of emergency communication devices you are carrying is helpful, too.
Your intended time schedule helps determine where you might be along your route at any given time and most importantly let’s others know if you are critically past due in your return.
Once complete, your float plan should be left either with a primary contact at home, or at a harbormaster office or a local authorities office near the initial launch site.
Next time you go paddling you can complete and share the below float plan in minutes and be safe out on the water!
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