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Float Plans, Nothing but Upside…

floatplan-300x300As we often pine to be afloat with a deck beneath our feet, we might feel compelled to venture out with proper planning. If so, the Float Plan is vital.
Float Plan
The Float Plan is a mechanism for ensuring that missing vessels are indeed missed in time for action to be taken that might otherwise lead to the rescue of the crew rather than the recovery of their bodies.
Float plans are all about SOLAS – Safety Of Life At Sea. However, the development of a float plan delivers nothing but upside to the boat’s master and crew.
Charting
The ideal float plan involves the detailed analysis of getting to your destination and returning safely. It provides the opportunity for the skipper to sit with his or her charts and walk through the passage with parallel rulers and dividers.
The goal of this analysis is to create your own Pilot Guide for the entire passage and to be able to assign predicted times to each leg. Deviation from predicted times is a warning that something is up – working against (or with!) a current, cross winds creating additional work effort for the engines to hold course, etc. All of this translates into fuel consumption “deltas” which ultimately leads directly to SOLAS issues
Weather
To predict the weather, I use www.weather.com – which details predictions by the hour. If the chance of precipitation for a particular day is 50%, but it is 10% in the morning and 90% in the afternoon, I want to know that. Put in your zip code or city name and click go…
Tides
Nothing is more likely to surprise you and more potentially perilous to happen than running aground. There are several good services to use but there is something very subtle about tide analysis that no chart gives you.
Tides change at different rates at different places. Knowing the tides at an inlet while spending the next six hours transiting from cove to bay “on the inside” could require major mental gymnastics in order to keep pace with the tide.
Local Notice to Mariners
The electronic versions of LNM appear on the U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Center’s Website at http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=LNMlistRegistration
Why go out upon the briny deep with less information than there is available to you? Go on their web site, enter your email address– and get the latest they know about what is happening “out there…”
Battening Down the Hatches
So, in summary, a complete float plan encompasses all of these components… And a prayer…
Dear Lord,
Your Sea is so wide…
And my boat is so small…
Protect me.
Amen!
BTW, if you are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at JoinUSCGAux@aol.com or go direct to the D1SR Human Resources Department at DSO-HR and we will help you “get in this thing…”

Filed in: U.S. Coast Guard Auxillary

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