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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 08-17-2007
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Float Plan

How many of you out there routinely prepare a float plan when going for extended cruises?
We have tried to make it a habit whenever we are away for a week or so. I would suggest that it is a good idea to get into. We are leaving this evening for a week away from the harbor and I have distributed a plan to three friends on shore. We actually are sailing to a different harbor and keeping the boat there for a week, (I still have to work next week; damn it.) The weird thing is that the CG does not want a copy. I contacted them about five years ago regarding this and their response was to file it with you harbormaster. I guess they got too much on their plate. My harbormaster gets a copy along with two other friends and family members.
Am I the only one who does this?
I imagine it might be different for Long Range Cruisers.
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Old 08-17-2007
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I keep in contact with my brother, but other than that (and my blog posts here), I don't file any plan. Partly because there really isn't anyone to do it with, and partly because there is no plan. It is a good idea though, particularly in places like Lake Michigan where weather can turn foul in a heartbeat.
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Old 08-17-2007
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Years ago, in the mid 80's, I filled out a float plan from copies I obtained from the USPS course my wife and I had both taken. Prior to leaving for extended trips, I never sent a copy to the USCG or HM - even though that was advised by our instructors. But, we gave a copy to a land-based family member.

Funny thing though, that was with a 25 foot boat - since then, we've taken much longer journeys in larger boats and have never filled out a FP. We do however, always announce our planned destinations and return date to marina friends, prior to leaving the slip.
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Old 08-17-2007
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When cruising and making a passage we just always called or emailed a family member and said..."here is where we are headed...call the Coast Guard if you don't hear from us by xxx" .
We would always build lots of "leeway" into our call the CG date to account for weather or mechanical problems. I think the main thing on real passages is to have someone know you are out there and where you are headed and not to get worried too soon.
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Old 08-17-2007
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For a longer trip, unless you have a definite schedule, I don't think filing a float plan really makes much sense. Personally, I think having a schedule of checking in with a friend or family member would make more sense. Weather, mechanical problems, and such can all cause your plans to change making a float plan less than useful.


Shorter trips, like weekend or day trips, it would probably make sense to have a float plan filed. Weather and mechanical problems, as well as changes of itinerary are far less likely to affect your schedule on a trip of such a scale.
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Old 08-17-2007
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We try to put in writting exactly what you have said.
This is from a sample of our latest.
I deleated the phone numbers to protect the innocent.


Above proposed itinerary may change due to weather and sea conditions.
We will be in contact via Cell Phone with Samantha Klaff and Sandy Robertson should the proposed itinerary change.
VHF Channel 16 will be monitored.
Please contact the nearest Coast Guard Station if not returned by Sunday August 26th at 1800Hours
In case of emergency please contact Jayne Rosandich;
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Old 08-17-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailortjk1 View Post
How many of you out there routinely prepare a float plan when going for extended cruises?
We have tried to make it a habit whenever we are away for a week or so. I would suggest that it is a good idea to get into. We are leaving this evening for a week away from the harbor and I have distributed a plan to three friends on shore. We actually are sailing to a different harbor and keeping the boat there for a week, (I still have to work next week; damn it.) The weird thing is that the CG does not want a copy. I contacted them about five years ago regarding this and their response was to file it with you harbormaster. I guess they got too much on their plate. My harbormaster gets a copy along with two other friends and family members.
Am I the only one who does this?
I imagine it might be different for Long Range Cruisers.
We do too, but only on passages. My experience with the USCG was the same.

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Old 08-17-2007
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A basic float plan is good sea-sense. Give it to whom ever the folks are that would be reporting you overdue. Very correct, way too much paper work for Charlie Gulf to keep up with.
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Old 08-17-2007
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Hmmm...here in Canada, it's always called a "sail plan". I file one on occasion with the Canadian Coast Guard over the VHF in the mornings, with a generous estimation of where I expect to be that evening. The challenge is to remember to "close the sail plan" via phone or VHF when you actually get there.

Frankly, I only do it when I expect to be both out of cell phone range, with children aboard and in stinky weather. I was in stinky weather last week, but was only going eight NM to windward about a mile offshore across the Toronto waterfront, and so no plan. There were a lot of heavy-weather fans within visual range at all times.

I have been utterly alone on the lake, however, in mid-October, which can get squally, and that is when I am more likely to alert the CCG of my movements. Frankly, I suspect they are a little bored by that point and I like to keep 'em busy!
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