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Do I Need a Float Plan for My Boating Vacation?

Do I Need a Float Plan for My Boating Vacation?

There are always risks when you take a boating vacation. Do friends and family know where you are going and how long you will be on the water? Should you have a float plan for your boating vacation?

The answer is yes. You need a float plan for your boating vacation in case you do not arrive at your destination as planned. It can help make the difference between your safety and a tragedy.

What is a float plan?

A float plan is also called a trip plan or a sail plan.

All recreational boaters are encouraged to file a float plan/trip plan before going out on the water, especially if you are going on a boating vacation for any significant length of time.

If you are going to be out on your boat for only a few hours, you may not want to file a written trip plan, but you do need to tell someone about your destination and when you will return to shore for your own safety.

Who gets the float plan?

Generally, trip plans are left with a friend, family member, or marina so that a rescue coordination centre or a search and rescue team can be contacted and mobilized if you fail to arrive at your destination during your boating vacation.

A float plan can be written or verbal and it provides valuable information in an emergency. Think of it as the equivalent of a pilot’s flight plan.

What information to include in your float plan

Description of your boat: Include your boat’s size, colour, make, whether it is motor- or wind-powered, and its identification number.

Your route: Including the route you plan to take will help rescuers find you should there be an emergency.

Starting point: Name your starting point: The marina or launch ramp.

Vehicle information: Include location and license plate number of your vehicle or tow vehicle.

The number of people aboard: List names, ages, genders and any medical conditions or disabilities of the people on your boat that could be relevant in a rescue operation.

Destination and timeframe: Note your destination and when you plan to arrive. If your trip is lengthy, you should consider including places and arrival times on your boating vacation.

Contact information: Provide contact information for your boat, including cell phone numbers and VHF radio

How to file a written float plan

Transport Canada has boating trip plan form that can be filled out online and emailed to your designated person before you leave on your bating vacation.

A trip plan can also be filed with a marina or your local Canadian Coast Guard detachment. A float plan/trip plan isn’t legally required in Canada, but it can go a long way to ensuring your safety should there be a mishap and you do not arrive at your destination during a boating vacation.

Equipment you need for your boating vacation

  • Personal floatation devices: By law, pleasure craft must have enough Canadian-approved flotation devices of the appropriate size for everyone on board. You can choose between lifejackets and PFDs. Lifesaving cushions are not approved as personal flotation devices.
  • Lights: Make sure all navigation lights and all instrument lights are working. Have aboard a flashlight and spare batteries.
  • Tools: Carry a basic toolbox with tools appropriate for your boat. Carry a box of spares including fuel filter, light bulbs, head parts, through-hull plugs.
  • Fire extinguisher: Carry at least one fire extinguisher and make sure it is accessible.
  • Distress signals: Make flares accessible and ensure they are stored in a cool, dry location. You should store them in a watertight container.

2 top tips before you leave on your boating vacation:

Fuel and oil: Top off your fuel tanks. Make sure you have enough fuel for your return to shore. Check the engine oil and coolant levels.

Weather forecast: Check the weather forecast before boating. Have a radio on board to get weather updates.

Boat insurance isn’t legally required, but it protects your investment in your boat. It’s best to insure your boat all year round to protect it, even if you’re not using it over the winter.

Speak to a Western Financial Group boat insurance expert about your boating insurance needs.