Don’t forget about your vessel’s safety plan!
By Wayne Spivak

You’re just about to set sail for the ocean blue, your favorite fishing hole, that islet beach or just a jaunt around the bay. Have you crossed your all your “T’s” and dotted or the “I’s”?

In the last article in this two part series we touched on owner responsibility, offshore operations, fuel management and nautical charts. We again urged you to increase your nautical knowledge by taking appropriate boating courses. In this article, we’re going to expand on the items that should be part of your boating check list.

Boating Check List: If it hasn’t been obvious, we’ve been creating a boating check list. Whether it is written, as is required if you fly a plane, or simply kept in your head, you need to develop that check list and check it twice, before you leave the dock.

Part of that check is, which isn’t in your head, is your Float Plan. A Float Plan is a document which details every aspect of your boat, its equipment, your boating plans and you and your crew. Don’t have a Float Plan? We’ve developed an on-line form. You fill it out, hit submit and then print it. It’s located here:

Once you’ve printed your Float Plan, give copies to your neighbors, your marina, and send a copy to each stop along the way, if you’re going on a trip. Should you fail to arrive, when your plan states you should, it will be these people who will contact the Coast Guard.

Do not give the copy of your Float Plan to the Coast Guard; in most instances, your local police won’t accept it either. A Float Plan is to guard your interests should you miss a check point, so if you know you’re going to be late, call ahead! Nothing is worse than having the Coast Guard start the Search phase of a SAR (Search and Rescue) case.

Weather & Sea Conditions: Most Americans listen to some type of news show or read the newspaper every morning. One of the first questions is always, “What’s the weather like?” Well, weather and sea conditions can turn a fun day on the water into tragedy, if you don’t keep an eye on the weather.

When the weatherman says “chances of thunderstorms in the late afternoon”, you should take heed and plan on keeping both your choices open for protecting your vessel and crew, as well as taking constant note of weather conditions. Learning more about weather, its telltale signs, and what weather does to sea conditions is a great first step in protecting yourself. The Coast Guard Auxiliary has such a course.

First Aid: This paragraph will be short. Take a First Aid Course. Take a First Aid Course. Oh, yea, before I forget, take a First Aid Course.

In addition, you should carry an appropriate first aid kit on your boat. For more information, see

Survival Tips: Do you know what to do if a fire breaks out on your boat? Do you know what to do if you go aground? Do you know how to call for help? Do you know how to use, and what channel to use on your VHF radio?

What do you do if a thunderstorm actually overtakes your? How do you handle a dangerous following sea.
The Boy Scouts of America have a motto, which every boater should take to heart. “Be Prepared”. The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto is Semper Paratus, which means “always ready.” As a boater, you should be prepared, and we hope this series of safety articles have at a minimum enticed you to learn more about boating, piloting, safety, and first aid.

For more information on boating safety, the specific courses mentioned, above, or the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, look us up on the web at or