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National Safe Boating Week 2010 - Coast Guard encourages use of float plans


KODIAK, Alaska - As National Safe Boating Week 2010 continues, the Coast Guard recommends and encourages the use of float plans to all boaters in order to assist rescuers should a boater's trip be delayed.

A float plan is a simple tool to aids rescuers should you encounter an emergency or delay in your voyage. It outlines a boater's itinerary by writing down times and locations of departure and expected arrivals, number and ages of people aboard, health concerns, equipment, the vessel's description and much more.

"Float plans are an essential part of any boaters repertoire," said Lt. Jason Boyle, supervisor of Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak. "They are just as important as doing vessel maintenance, or carrying lifesaving equipment.  Leaving behind a float plan that tells a trusted person where you are going, how many people are aboard and when you are expected to return can mean the difference between being safely rescued when unexpected emergencies occur and not being rescued at all."

Once a boater fills out the float plan, it should be given to family, friends and the harbormaster. The responsible party in charge of your float plan should be instructed to contact the closest Coast Guard station in the event you do not return as expected.  A secondary location for the float plan is the dashboard of your vehicle.  It should be placed in a highly visible location easily read from outside.

Many search and rescue cases could be resolved quickly if boaters would use float plans. Voyages are often delayed due to weather.  The plan allows Coast Guard personnel to narrow search areas and potentially find boaters faster. Coast Guard personnel can render assistance or advise family members you are delayed but safe.

With today's technology, boaters can fill out a float plan electronically and save it.  This way, all you need to do is update it for new trips. The completed float plan can be e-mailed to whomever you choose. An easy to use float plan can be found online at www.floatplancentral.org.

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