We have heard about these so-called Float Plans during our training, but no one we have encountered so far seems to use them.
With John’s aviation background, it is an automatic occurrence prior to each flight to file a flight note or official flight plan before leaving the ground each time. If you fail to check in or cancel a flight plan, the agency or person your filed it will first start a radio and/or phone search for you, and if not successful, Search and Rescue (SAR) assets will be called to do an actual physical search for you.
We are going to operate with the same principle on the water, as we would like someone to come get us when we are trouble, but they first have to know that we are missing before they can do so.
A float plan can be as simple as a scrap of paper with a small number of details like a location and time or any number of pre-made forms that are out there. The idea is to let family or friends know your whereabouts and, should a problem occur, the plan will give the searchers a valuable head start locating your boat. There is no right answer for who should have this information. Ultimately it needs to be a responsible person that will realize you are not where you are supposed to be, and will start doing something about it.
The form we are using, until we come across a better one, is from the US Coast Guard Auxilary’s floatplancentral.org.