Float Plan: Protect Yourself on Every Kayaking Adventure (Downloadable Template)

Why Every Kayaker Should Have a Float Plan

Kayaking is an exhilarating sport that offers adventure and a unique perspective on nature. However, it also comes with inherent risks, especially when paddling in remote or unfamiliar waters. A float plan is a simple yet vital tool that can significantly enhance your safety by ensuring that someone knows your whereabouts and can initiate a search if necessary. By detailing your intended route, departure and arrival times, and other crucial information, a float plan acts as a safety net, providing peace of mind for both you and your loved ones.

How a Float Plan Can Save Lives

In the event of an emergency, time is of the essence. A float plan can expedite rescue efforts by providing search and rescue teams with precise information about your intended location and route. This can be the difference between a quick rescue and a prolonged search, potentially saving lives. Whether it’s an unexpected weather change, equipment failure, or a medical emergency, having a float plan ensures that help can reach you as quickly as possible.

Section 1: What is a Float Plan?

A float plan is a detailed itinerary that outlines your kayaking trip. It includes critical information such as your departure point, destination, estimated travel time, and the names of everyone in your party. This document is shared with a responsible person who can alert authorities if you do not return as scheduled.

The Primary Purpose: Safety and Emergency Response

The main purpose of a float plan is to enhance safety and facilitate a swift emergency response. By providing precise details about your trip, a float plan enables search and rescue teams to locate you more efficiently if something goes wrong. It’s a proactive measure to ensure that you are accounted for and can be found quickly in case of an accident.

Components of a Float Plan

Key Information to Include:

  • Personal Information: Names, ages, and contact details of all participants.
  • Kayak Details: Description of the kayak(s) including color, make, and model.
  • Trip Details: Planned route, waypoints, departure, and arrival locations.
  • Timeline: Expected departure time, duration of the trip, and return time.
  • Emergency Information: Emergency contacts, medical conditions, and required medications.
  • Communication Equipment: Details of any communication devices and signaling equipment being carried.

Section 2: Why You Need a Float Plan

A float plan enhances your safety by ensuring that someone knows your exact plans and can take action if you don’t return as expected. This preemptive measure allows for a timely response in the event of an emergency, significantly increasing your chances of being found quickly. Knowing that help can be mobilized promptly provides an additional layer of security for both novice and experienced kayakers.

Real-Life Examples of Successful Rescues Thanks to Float Plans

There have been numerous instances where float plans have been instrumental in successful rescue operations. For example, kayakers caught in sudden storms or those who experienced equipment failures were swiftly located and rescued because they had filed a float plan. These real-life stories underscore the critical importance of this simple but effective safety measure.

Legal and Practical Considerations

Legal Requirements in Certain Areas

In some regions, filing a float plan may be a legal requirement, particularly for kayaking in national parks or protected waters. These regulations are put in place to ensure the safety of visitors and the protection of natural resources. Always check local regulations before embarking on your trip.

Practical Benefits of Having a Float Plan

Beyond safety, a float plan offers several practical benefits. It provides a clear itinerary that helps you stay organized and prepared. Additionally, it reassures friends and family members, knowing they have a detailed account of your plans. In case of unexpected delays or changes, the float plan ensures that someone can track your progress and assist if needed.

Section 3: Key Elements of a Float Plan

Creating a comprehensive float plan is essential for ensuring safety during your kayaking adventure. Here are the key elements you need to include:

Personal Information

  • Name, Age, and Contact Details: List the full names, ages, and contact information for each participant. This information is crucial for identification and communication.
  • Number of Participants: Specify how many people are in your group. This helps search and rescue teams know how many individuals to look for.

Kayak Details

  • Description of the Kayak: Include detailed information about each kayak, such as color, make, model, and any distinguishing features. For example, “Red Perception Pescador 12.0, white stripe on the hull.”
  • Additional Equipment: List all essential equipment being used, including paddles, Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs), spray skirts, and any other significant gear. Mention if the kayak has any safety features like sealed bulkheads.

Trip Details

  • Planned Route and Waypoints: Outline your intended route, including start and end points, as well as key waypoints along the way. Providing a map or GPS coordinates can be extremely helpful.
  • Departure and Arrival Locations: Clearly state where you plan to launch your kayak and your final destination. Include specific addresses or landmarks.
  • Expected Duration of the Trip: Give a realistic estimate of how long your trip will take, including start and expected return times. Account for breaks and possible delays.

Emergency Information

  • Emergency Contacts: Provide contact details for at least two people who are not part of the trip but can be contacted in case of an emergency. Include their names, relationship to you, and phone numbers.
  • Medical Conditions and Required Medications: Note any medical conditions that participants have and list any necessary medications. This information is vital for rescue teams to provide appropriate care.
  • Communication Devices and Signaling Equipment: Detail all communication devices being carried, such as mobile phones, VHF radios, or satellite phones. Also, list any signaling equipment, like flares or whistles, which can be used to attract attention.

Section 4: How to Create a Float Plan

Creating a float plan is straightforward if you follow these steps:

  1. Gathering Necessary Information: Collect all the details mentioned above. Ensure you have accurate and up-to-date information for each section of the float plan.
  2. Using Templates and Resources: Utilize float plan templates available online, which can simplify the process. Websites like the U.S. Coast Guard or paddling clubs often offer downloadable forms. Mobile apps designed for boating and kayaking also provide digital templates that you can fill out and share.

Sharing Your Float Plan

  1. Who to Share It With: Share your float plan with a trusted person who is not participating in the trip. This could be a family member, friend, or local authority. Ensure they understand their role in monitoring your return and contacting emergency services if necessary.
  2. Methods of Sharing:
    • Email: Send a copy of the float plan via email to your designated contact(s).
    • Printed Copies: Provide printed copies to your emergency contacts.
    • Online Submission: Use apps or websites that allow you to submit your float plan electronically. Some regions have specific online platforms for submitting float plans to local authorities.

Section 5: Example Float Plan Template

Creating a float plan is straightforward if you follow a structured template. Here’s a comprehensive example of what a detailed float plan might look like, highlighting each section with sample data.

Example Float Plan

Download a template here!

Section 6: Tools and Resources

Having the right tools and resources can simplify creating and sharing your float plan.

Float Plan Apps and Websites

  • Recommended Apps:
    • Float Plan One: An app designed for creating and submitting float plans. It allows you to save templates and share them easily.
    • Paddle Logger: Tracks your kayaking trips and lets you share your route and details with emergency contacts.
    • Boating Suite: A comprehensive app that includes a float plan feature, along with other boating and kayaking tools.
  • Recommended Websites:
    • U.S. Coast Guard: Offers a downloadable float plan template and resources on boating safety.
    • American Canoe Association: Provides guidelines and templates for creating effective float plans.

Printable Templates

Local Resources

Section 7: Tips for Effective Float Plans

To ensure your float plan is as effective as possible, follow these tips:

Regular Updates

  • Importance of Updating Your Float Plan if Your Plans Change:
    • Always inform your emergency contact if your route or schedule changes. An updated float plan ensures they have the most accurate information to provide to rescue teams if needed.

Detailed Descriptions

  • Providing Detailed and Accurate Information:
    • Be as detailed as possible when describing your kayak, gear, and route. Specific details help search and rescue teams locate you more efficiently.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Ensuring You Have the Right Equipment and Know How to Use It:
    • Carry essential safety equipment like a whistle, flares, and a VHF radio. Ensure you know how to use all your gear, including first aid supplies and navigation tools. Regular practice with this equipment increases your confidence and effectiveness in an emergency.


Creating and sharing a float plan is a simple yet vital step in ensuring your safety while kayaking. By providing detailed information about your trip, you enable quick and efficient rescue operations if something goes wrong.

  • Always include detailed personal, trip, and emergency information in your float plan.
  • Share your float plan with trusted individuals and update them if your plans change.
  • Utilize available tools and resources to create comprehensive and accessible float plans.

Prioritize your safety by making a float plan an integral part of your kayaking routine. This proactive measure ensures that you, and those who care about you, can enjoy peace of mind while you explore the waterways.

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Co-founder and Chief Adventurer

I am Max, the co-founder and CEO of adventuro. We are on a mission to help you get into the sports you have always wanted to try, or develop in the sports you love, exploring new skills and locations. We do this by partnering with the best instructors, guides, and activity centres to get a great spread from beginner all the way to instructor training.

For too long, it has been way to confusing to find your next steps, or even to know where to start when getting into adventure sports. I am an experienced and/or qualified paraglider, skydiver, scuba diver, freediver, power boat driver, snowboarder, kitesurfer, kayaker, mountain biker, surfer, dirt biker, wakeboarder, and sailor.

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