What is a float plan?
Essentially it's a plan left with someone on land which includes details about your boat, route, leaving and returning times, persons aboard and any other important information. You should file one whenever you venture on the open sea. Then if something goes wrong and you don't return when expected, the people who have your float plan can notify the authorities and initiate a search and rescue for you.
What does a float plan look like?
Here's one way to do it. Use an official-looking form like this one. At least it reminds you of what information you might want to include.
But you don't need to use a fancy form. When I venture out on the bays locally on my Laser, my float plan is to tell Tillerwoman where I am launching from, the general area in which I will be sailing, and the time I expect to return.
But here's a 21st century way to file a float plan...
Yup. The US Coast Guard is now suggesting that a good way to file a float plan is to put it on Twitter or Facebook. This has the advantage that you can update it with status reports during your voyage, and all you need is a cell phone capable of sending text messages.
I can see the logic in this, but it still strikes me as strange that a program created a few years by a kid at Harvard to allow students there to connect with each other, and an even more recent creation of some geeks in California originally intended for people to buzz their friends' cell phones with inconsequential messages, are both now being officially endorsed by an arm of the US federal government as recommended tools for public safety.
How strange is that possum?
Tweet me! Maybe I'm getting old...