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Does your family or friends know what to do if you are overdue from a day on the water? I've been using float plans for years and they provide all the information search/rescue will need to hopefully start the ball rolling in your recovery. I first used handwritten plans until I discovered this form that can be downloaded from the USCG website. (PDF) I've already filled mine out for each of my yaks (minus the daily itinerary which I fill out by hand) and printed copies so they're available when needed. One copy on the refrigerator for the wife, and one copy on the dash of my truck.

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I always text my wife minutes before I launch with the exact location that I'm launching the yak.  (Mainly because I'm indecisive enough that I often change my mind about where to go after I've pulled away from the house.)

I always text my wife minutes after I get off the water.   I'm anal about sending those texts....however, I'm probably not going to be filling out forms any time soon.

 

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4 minutes ago, Choporoz said:

I always text my wife minutes before I launch with the exact location that I'm launching the yak.  (Mainly because I'm indecisive enough that I often change my mind about where to go after I've pulled away from the house.)

I always text my wife minutes after I get off the water.   I'm anal about sending those texts....however, I'm probably not going to be filling out forms any time soon.

 

That's a float plan.

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1 hour ago, Choporoz said:

I always text my wife minutes before I launch with the exact location that I'm launching the yak.  (Mainly because I'm indecisive enough that I often change my mind about where to go after I've pulled away from the house.)

I always text my wife minutes after I get off the water.   I'm anal about sending those texts....however, I'm probably not going to be filling out forms any time soon.

 

I'm pretty much the same way.  I leave a note for the wife on where I'm launching, the area of the lake I'll be fishing, my truck license number and boat registration number.  I'll also write down the number for the county sheriffs department for the lake I'll be at and then text her when I come off the water.

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My wife would have the insurance on speed dial, drop 3 dress sizes and overheat the internet with ads for a boat for sale...in that order

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I always let my wife know where I will be fishing. If I decide to go to a different spot I will call her and tell her. If I will be later than normal getting back home I will call and let her know where I am and about the time I will be home. I guess we are living in the dark ages but we don't do any texting.

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One thing that works quite well for me also is the find a friend app on my phone. Not just for fishing, but I am self employed, so I’m quite often working on a job all by myself all day. At any time, my wife can see exactly where I am, at least that way if something happened ( god forbid), she’d be able to find me or at least send others in the right direction to look for me

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USCG has an app for that.  You can make a plan for each body of water you float on, and save the information.  Pick your plan, send it to anyone you want.

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My home water is the busiest freshwater waterway per acre in the U.S. If something happens to me, it will be the direct result of an inebriated or inexperienced or distracted boater. There will be many witnesses. Unfortunately there are 1 or 2 deaths every year.

 

When I fish Lake Michigan, I carry a ship to shore radio as well as cellphone(s). I feel safer on Lake Michigan than I do on my home water. I would rather die at the hand of mother nature than some asshat.

 

No, I do not create a float plan.

 

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  When a vessel does not return when expected it's called 'overdue' by many Search & Rescue Authorities.

There are a number of reasons a vessel could be overdue from being aground, broke down, decided to stay out, some type of injury or worse.  There are even occasions where boaters mislead the humans at home and are not actually even on the water at all.  Those cases were often very interesting. 

 So when taking the phone call, it was really helpful when the reporting party had some basic info and very helpful when they knew most everything (as noted on the form in the OP).   

  So I'm hoping for the names, ages and description of the people on board, as well as if anyone had health problems or was taking any medications & why.  Be good to have the Description & tags of tow vehicle & trailer (if towed) or marina name and slip (if docked) as well as the size, color, make & model of the boat & motor (if O/B).  The local PD will be contacted to check for the towing rig & trailer at the ramp or to see if the boat is in the slip at the marina and just forgot / neglected to call home.  Knowing when the vessel left, their intend route and if fishing, what they are fishing for, is helpful.

 

  The less of this I had, the longer it was going to take to locate the vessel.  When a distressed loved one would call with little to no info, I'd often have them start giving me phone numbers of everyone and anyone they knew who had any info about the boat or the people - regardless of time of day or night - someone knows something, so I'm calling them all until I get some useful info.  I'd get some interesting responses. 

 

 Daylight good weather searches are best case scenario; ton's of boating traffic complicate things.  A radio call out in areas where people use them, can help as a good Samaritan can often local the boat / people. 

Night time, and or bad weather or some other type of poor visibility, and tough search conditions (rain, winds, waves, fog or snow, super low ceiling) make locating a boat, or a capsized boat or people in the water - really challenging.

 Vessels that break down and do not or can not anchor, can drift a long way over time; especially in big water & bad weather. They can & often do drift into more trouble; shipping lanes, jock jetties, &  low bridges are a few examples. 

 

 Being able to signal someone when in need of assistance can be the difference between spending a cold miserable night (or worse) out on the water, and sleeping in your own bed that night.  Signal lights, signal flares and day smoke are all effective options.  May not be required but does not distract from their effectiveness. 

 

A super effective but more $$ option for inland / near shore operators is the Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).  This GPS-enabled rescue beacon is suited for outdoor adventures of all sizes (think: everything from hiking and cycling to hunting and fishing). When one runs into an unexpected situation, the PLB will relay your location to a network of search and rescue satellites. PLBs have helped save thousands of people's lives.  I will never not have one. 

 Lastly there's the Cell Phone.  While  area coverage's have improved a ton in recent years, and most all have some type of gps location ability, big water, not being water proof and dead batteries can make them less effective as a communication / rescue device than we'd hope; and hope is a shaky strategy at best.  Boating in an urban or well covered area is less problematic than a many rural, back woods, or swamp scenarios.  

 

So do yourself & your loved ones a solid - file a float plan with a responsible adult and if you change plans, tell them.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Stay Safe.

A-Jay

 

 

 

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