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What is a float plan and why you need one

A float plan is a detailed list of information regarding your trip. It contains the who, what, where, and why of your planned day out or voyage.

Think of it as an inventory of the entire trip. You need it because every year emergency services receive calls about people who haven’t returned back from a boating trip. Unfortunately, unless the missing person left behind a detailed float plan, it can be hard to know where they were headed, who was with them, and when they were expected to return.

Without a float plan you are counting on someone else to remember detailed information that rescue authorities will need in order to find you. Information that can make a difference in the outcome.

Information to include in a float plan

Describe the vessel, including its registration number, size, make, capacity, horsepower, and type of engine. State what safety equipment you have onboard, where you are going, the detailed route, your planned departure time, your expected return time and the number of people you have onboard. If possible, include a photograph of your vessel with your float plan. Leave the float plan at your local marina, with a relative, or friend.

Calculating your arrival time

Allow for a buffer zone around your arrival time which accommodates for various conditions you may encounter during the trip. You will need to consider weather, wind, boat speed, any known issues which could slow you down, possible stops you could be making and trip time. The longer the trip the greater the your buffer zone will need to be.

Check in at your final destination

When you arrive at your destination contact the person/s you left your float plan with. Let them know all is well and advise of any changes to your estimated returning time.

Download our FREE float plan template NSW Voyage Plan (interactive PDF form – complete, save and email as you need it)

If you get caught in a sudden storm or run into an emergency situation, having a float plan filed with a responsible person could save your life.



The National Maritime College (NMC) is a Registered Training Organisation providing competency-based boat training and education. The College offers boat licence and jet ski (PWC) licence courses and tests designed to improve boating skills and awareness. You can expect friendly and professional training from from us. It is the "personal touch" and dedication to improving safety on the water whilst instilling - confidence, knowledge and good boat handling skills that sets us apart.

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