Float Plans

Discussion in 'Paddling Safety' started by Alana, May 14, 2019.

  1. Alana

    Alana Wave Seeker

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    After a recent trip *cough* I have revised my group float plan to be a little more thorough. It's a bit of a mashup of a couple that I liked online.

    I've decided to include it here for anyone to use for their own trips. Once competed, I would recommend circulating it with all group members so that everyone is on the same page. Don't forget to let everyone know who the float plan was left with–and to check in with that person once you return.

    There are two variations of this float plan, one for groups up to three, and one for groups up to six people. I'm personally not a fan of large groups, so that's what you're getting.
     

    Attached Files:

    JKA, dvfrggr, dermot and 1 other person like this.
  2. JKA

    JKA Paddler

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2016
    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    Banks Peninsula, New Zealand
    Thanks Alana, good idea.

    I would expect this to be completed just prior to launching, as most paddlers I know aren't organised enough to provide this information in advance.

    Would it make sense to fill in a paper copy, have all participants photograph it with their smartphone, and then send a copy to the 'responsible party' ashore?

    Of course, this would require participants to have smartphones and also to have connection from wherever the group assembled/filled in the float plan/departed.

    ---------------------

    PS: After writing this I wondered if there was an app that offered a kayaking float plan, and there doesn't seem to be. There is a Canadian sailing plan, Sailing (Float) Plan, but with a C$20 annual fee.

    Any app-developers want to have a crack?

    ----------------------


    I'm running some leadership training this weekend, I'll offer it up to the group, acknowledging you as the author.

    Cheers

    John
     
  3. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2011
    Messages:
    540
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    Very thorough. But is it too thorough? Having more information can;t hurt, unless it becomes so onerous that it prevents the form from being filled out.

    Is there anyone here who has either been the holder of a float plan for another who had to make a report to authorities, or had someone who held their float plan make a report, who can talk about what information they asked for? Be interesting to hear what info is most important for the rescuers.
     
  4. Alana

    Alana Wave Seeker

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    For an upcoming trip, I just asked everyone to send me the information and I completed the form. We still have some information that needs to be finalized, so it won't be sent to the contact at home until it's complete. It seems a little overkill for a short weekend trip, but I'm going to make it (a mildly annoying) habit anyways. I've got a more exciting trip coming up, so it's practice if anything.

    I'm already known for obsessing over nautical charts, so let's add float plans to my name as well. :/

    I can't take full credit, as I pulled a bunch of it from other float plans that I found online.
     
  5. Alana

    Alana Wave Seeker

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2010
    Messages:
    303
    Location:
    British Columbia, Canada
    Completely true. My float plans from years ago were keen and in-depth, however after countless trips, one becomes nonchalant (especially for short local trips) and the details slowly disappear until your float plan ends up being a text to your mother. Next thing you know your friends are late to return and the majority of the details were not discussed.

    I feel like it would also depend on who the plan was left with. My mom for example, doesn't know much about kayaking or camping (such as a description of the boats we paddle, what safety equipment we have, what decisions would be made if the weather changes, how to contact search and rescue, etc) so something as detailed as the above would be necessary in an actual situation.

    Waiting for Rider to chime in here.

    One thing that was missing from the Jedediah float plan was a description of the vehicles, and one of the first steps that the authorities took was to check the launch site parking lot. Rider was familiar with the other car (and called SAR), however I was not. Telling search and rescue that they should be looking for a black car with roof racks isn't particularly useful at a busy launch site.

    Again, I wasn't the one that made the call, but they would have asked for a description of the paddlers (including their boats and tents) and the intended route–at the very least. Rider provided the rest of the relevant information, but he is a proficient paddler and knew the other two very well.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,638
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Alana, your attention to detail and comprehension of how the several variables influencing a a SAR response to a group in need are exceptional, seems to me. Your trip report forms are a very good resource if people use them. Alas, I fear the bulk of the paddling public is not reliably attentive enough to depend on TRs. But, that does not mean we should abandon them.

    It does strike me, however, that in the Jedediah incident, that if the lost paddkers had more aggressively used their VHF to report in to the CCG, a large SAR response would not have been needed. Perhaps more training efforts to raise awareness of how and when to reach out to the CCG might bear fruit as well.
     
  7. nootka

    nootka Paddler

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    1,519
    Location:
    Campbell River
    It seems to me that there is no official way to get practice talking to CCG. Last summer I wanted to notify them that I would be doing some rolls in the middle of Discovery Passage in sight of Campbell River. I didn't want any false alarms raised by the public. It took considerable effort to find out who to contact via email and eventually they just asked for notification of start & end of the exercise via VHF.
     
  8. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,638
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Pretty much the default mode down here, also, with USCG. Eliminates some potential for confusion.
     
  9. Peter-CKM

    Peter-CKM Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2011
    Messages:
    540
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    At least in San Francisco Bay Area, the coast guard has provided kayaking groups, mariners running events, etc. with a non-emergency contact phone number we use for things like this. And if someone calls them on the VHF and they feel that it would be even a minor conversation and not an emergency, they will give the phone number out on the radio and have you phone in rather than block the VHF channel.

    That said, if someone calls in a flipped over kayak, even if they know you are doing rescues in the same area, they still need to go out and check to make sure it is you the call was for and not someone else nearby who does need to be rescued. Has come up at the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium/Paddle Golden Gate, much of which takes place right under the Golden Gate Bridge (with lots of tourists enjoying the view, who may see rescue practice and call it in thinking it is an emergency). Thankfully, the CG station that would respond is also right there, so they don't have long distances to travel for calls on a rescue practice.
     
  10. red kite

    red kite Paddler

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2009
    Messages:
    112
    Location:
    comox valley
    In May 2017, after 4 marine incidents in the area over the course of a couple of months (sadly, with 2 fatalities), we had a Marine SAR officer come up Island for a presentation on SAR and how to interact with them.

    I asked that specific question, how they prefer to be contacted to let them know of rescue practice. She said calling them at 250-413-8933 would be [her?] contact option of choice.

    I called in three rescue practices since, and it was always straightforward. They did ask for a location and time window, and on one occasion I was asked to call back when we were done.

    https://sarcontacts.info/contacts/jrcc-victoria-pacific-region-only-6021/
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
    JohnAbercrombie likes this.
  11. Mac50L

    Mac50L Paddler

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2014
    Messages:
    213
    Location:
    South Island, New Zealand
  12. designer

    designer Paddler

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    499
    Location:
    Bend OR USA
    Prequel: You don't want to transmit without an antenna or dummy load attached; it could break your radio.

    If you have a Ham Radio store in town, or Google Ham Radio Outlet, Universal Radio, or other similar suppler, you may find they have something called a "Dummy Load" you can put on your Marine VHF radio for practice sessions. They also showed up on Amazon and eBay.

    The dummy load looks like an antenna to the radio - so it's happy - but it doesn't radiate. So you can use it and practice with all the button pushes and screen changes. Of course you can practice just by holding the radio and not pushing the Talk button. But having everything be "real" is better learning. For example, some radios show the remaining battery level when transmitting - a good thing to know.

    You can't trust the battery level indicator so much if not transmitting because receiving takes much less current. I remember checking a battery on my portable ham radio at home and it looked okay. So I took it on a long uphill hike with the intention of using it at the summit. Thought there was plenty of juice to receive signals, the radio would die when I tried to transmit - it's like that. So it's important to check the battery level on Transmit before you leave the house; not so much fun to find out on the water.

    Things to look for in a dummy load: rated for the frequency of 150MHz or above, the connection matches your radio - usually either BNC or SMA - and its power rating is at or above the level you'll be using.

    Getting one with a low power rating is important for cost saving - you only need one rated at 5 to 10 watts. Googling around, I found high priced units that were rated for much more power than necessary. And many Marine VHF radios let you set a lower power level - below 5 Watts.

    Note that if the dummy load is rated right at your power level, it isn't designed for long transmissions. Maybe a better bet is it get one rated about 10W (and still use it on low power). I think they were about $15.00 This is something a club could invest in and have radio classes for its members.

    Here's a URL for three dummy loads rated at 2 watts for under $3.00 (and free shipping) https://tinyurl.com/yywoftco

    I'd want to do more research (i.e. ask the vendor or a knowledgeable friend) if the unit would work as a VHF dummy load matching your radio antenna connection and transmit power.

    Did I mention that you don't want to transmit without an antenna or dummy load attached; it could break your radio.
     
  13. mick_allen

    mick_allen Paddler & Moderator

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Messages:
    3,061
    Thanks designer, that's fascinating
    . . . so as transmitting takes so much power . . . and as we're in a sort of digital age . . . is there any texting type low power option for vhf on the horizon? Or is transmitting of any manner always a high power operation?
     
  14. designer

    designer Paddler

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
    Messages:
    499
    Location:
    Bend OR USA
    In the Ham Radio world, in the VHF spectrum, there are now handheld radios that have a digital format. That means you need a matching radio (one that reads the specific digital format) to communicate. You are not sending "text"; your voice is being digitized and sent as "data". It is then turned back into voice at the other end. If you want to be heard by the most people, you need to use the most common, universal, method of communication - in this case, at this time, tried and true FM works best.

    "High power" is a tricky phrase. In the hand held Marine VHF radio situation, "High Power" could be the unit's maximum power - usually 5 watts. Often such units have a menu setting that allows it to be reduced down to something like 2 watts and even half a watt (.5 watts). The lower the transmit power, the longer the battery life. So if people are in a group, communicating on the water, then they probably don't need all of 5 watts. In the ham world, we are supposed to use the least amount of power that provides reliable communications.

    That said, in an emergency situation, I may not want to have to remember to switch my radio from 2 watts to 5 watts if I need the best chance of reaching someone.

    My VHF radio is there for weather reports and I hope nothing else. If it it is needed to communicate, I'd probably leave it on 5 watts as such situation would be rare and of short duration.

    Finally (before this thread gets moved to "Gear"), you will get very little benefit from paying more for a 7 watt radio over a 5 watt radio. If you want more range, get a better antenna. Make friends with a ham radio operator and/or attend a club meeting - not to join, but to ask them to make you a J-Pole antenna out of that 300 ohm twin lead (lead rhymes with bleed) for 156MHz. You can hang it from a tree branch and get far better performance than with the little rubber antenna supplied. The antenna rolls up to something about the size of hardball.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  15. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,870
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    For receive only (WX) a telescoping antenna can make a difference. I got that advice before a trip in AK, and it made a difference - no/poor WX with the ducky antenna in the tent, much better with the telescoping one.
    Available for a few dollars (delivered) from eBay/China. Not for use on the water.

    And, yes...sorry for the off-topic..we should have this transplanted to the 'Gear' sub forum (please!)