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Thread: Ok "fess" up!

  1. #1

    Default Ok "fess" up!

    Although it's not a legal requirement, and I'm not the "boat police", we all know it's a good idea to file a float plan whenever we go out in our boats. But how many of you actually do file a float plan?

    The reason I ask this is because if I go out fishing in Port Valdez (the bay area not including the Valdez Narrows) I don't see anyone filing a float plan for that area. But if I went out to Orca Bay or someplace further out, filing a float plan would be a good thing. Problem is that if I get caught in the weather and have to hole up in a sheltered cove someplace, my float plan may cause an unnecessary search by the Coast Guard.

    How long should I put down to wait before a search is begun so I don't cause the CG undo alarm? What do you guys/gals do?

  2. #2
    Member bhollis's Avatar
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    Default

    Not sure what you mean by "filing" a float plan. Although pilots can file flight plans with the FAA, I don't think you can file a float plan with the Coast Guard, or any other agency that I'm aware of.

    I normally give a friend or relative our itinerary (places we're going, routes, dates, etc.), and tell them that if they haven't heard from us by a certain date and time, to call the Coast Guard. Then we just have to remember to call them when we get back.

  3. #3
    Member Alaska Gray's Avatar
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    Default

    You can do it online now before you go out.
    Living the Alaskan Dream
    Gary Keller
    Anchorage, AK

  4. #4
    Member bhollis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska Gray View Post
    You can do it online now before you go out.
    With whom? Where?

  5. #5
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    Default Everytime

    Everytime I go out on the water I leave a float plan with at least one of my friends/family.
    Someone I think will actualy start missing me, definetly not the Ex.
    And if I get cell service I'll usually update my position just in case, anything to narrow the search down if something bad happens. I spent a few hours staring out the window of CG helo's searching for missing people and the smaller the search area the better your chances. Just think if your float plan is for a day trip from Whittier to Naked Island and you don't return on time. Thats alot of water to start looking for you, but if you give a call
    the search can be narrowed down.
    Dave

  6. #6
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    Default File a foat plan locally

    Each harbormaster office offers float plan forms that you can fill out and leave with them. I know Whittier still offers this service, Seward and Homer used to, maybe they still do.
    I always tell them that I will return about 12 hours after my planned return. That gives us a little slack on the timing. Your would have to ask the harbormaster office what their procedure is for initiating a search for an overdue float plan. Most times I don't want to bother with it, but I do anyway.
    Notifying a neighbor or realtive is also a great idea.

  7. #7
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    The troopers have a form also. you can down load it and then give it to someone you trust that if you dont return or call them it has all the info about where you parked/launched or left from, when you are planning to return and all sorts of pertinent info they might need to track you down. I use it all the time for my boating trips or even when hunting at my cabin.

  8. #8
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    Default http://www.dps.state.ak.us/PIO/docs/WildernessTripPlan.pdf

    Heres the link to the AST trip plan form. I know lots of people that use it.


  9. #9

    Default

    I go over the plan with the wife and inform the spouse's of my buddies so they understand also. Waiting for weather in a cove is part of the plan, how to check the weather themselves, and where I am going. I have been late in a cove before and it helps if they understand that it is always a safer bet than trying to get home in bad conditions. I trust the family to understand my timeline better than a form dropped at the launch ramp. (With regards to exacting cell phone calls at a specific time that is, etc.) The more that know the better, yes I sometimes file one at the ramp, but not everytime.

  10. #10

    Default My father in law uses "Spot"

    He lives in AZ and spends his weekends a hundred or so miles out in the desert exploring, rock hunting, arrowhead hunting, 4 wheeling by himself usually and cell coverage is sketchy. Sometimes he's late getting home so they got the locator device called "Spot". I think I saw it advertised in Fish Alaska too. Pretty neat as it can be tracked via your home computer, plus you can have limited communication with it; it apparently only has a couple of buttons and easy to operate. His wife can ask him if he's okay and he can respond by one of three responses, one being an absolute emergency, 911 type of thing.
    Thought it would be great to have in areas of limited cell coverage.
    Jim

  11. #11
    Member bhollis's Avatar
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  12. #12
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    For the harbors that take float plans, we file them, and we also let family/neighbors know where we are going.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Jim View Post
    He lives in AZ and spends his weekends a hundred or so miles out in the desert exploring, rock hunting, arrowhead hunting, 4 wheeling by himself usually and cell coverage is sketchy. Sometimes he's late getting home so they got the locator device called "Spot". I think I saw it advertised in Fish Alaska too. Pretty neat as it can be tracked via your home computer, plus you can have limited communication with it; it apparently only has a couple of buttons and easy to operate. His wife can ask him if he's okay and he can respond by one of three responses, one being an absolute emergency, 911 type of thing.
    Thought it would be great to have in areas of limited cell coverage.
    Jim
    I have/use SPOT when I go fishing on the boat and my wife doesn't go with me. Just for clarification, no one can ask how you are doing (can't send messages TO SPOT, only FROM it). There are 3 buttons on SPOT. One is 911 and it sends a message to the SPOT headquarters (Texas, I think) and they start making calls and sending out searchers. The other two buttons are "ok" and "help" (or something like that). You can go online to your personal SPOT site and pre-program what message you want sent for each of these two buttons. I programmed mine to say "I'm here right now" for the OK button (use it when I'm anchored for the night), and to say "held up by weather and will call when get within cell range" for the "help" button. You can't change these messages when you're away from your computer (i.e. on the water) and you can't receive any messages. You can have the message sent from the SPOT to several e-mail addresses and even better, it can send the message in text form to multiple cell phones (along with lat and long). It does have its limitations, as it does depend on seeing satellites. But mine gets the message out probably 90% of the time.

  14. #14
    Member Tolman24's Avatar
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    Default Float plan and SPOT

    I try and print out a chart with the areas I am intending on fishing. I leave it with my wife, if she is not going, or other friend or relative. I also keep a SPOT on the boat and use it several times a trip. It is programmed to send an email to my near family members on the OK button and to family members and 2 close friends on the "need help" button. I send "OK" messages when leaving the harbor, when we get to our fishing area, whenever we make a big move, and when back at the harbor. I also ask my son to do the same when he is on the boat or hunting. It makes my wife happy to know all is well. When she is happy, I am happy. It just takes a second to send the message. My wife knows that if I send an I'm OK message in a cove in the evening, I am weathered in and staying over. The SPOT is not a replacement for an EPIRB or PLB but it makes a nice addition to the boating gadgetry. In the event of an Search and Rescue event there is a definitive location at a definitive time.

  15. #15

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tolman24 View Post
    When she is happy, I am happy.
    Tolman24 is spot on (pun intended).

  16. #16

    Default

    Thanks for the replies. The info I was looking for was the "window" I should leave in case I have to hole up in a cove someplace and I guess 12 hours would probably cover it...don't think I would starve to death by then!
    The SPOT thing bears looking into as well - especially if it works up here (as very few of these wonders of modern life do!)

    I know if you talk to a lot of my buddies at work they will say I'm being paranoid or making too much of this "safety thing"...after all it's just fishing! But I feel it is a safe fishing trip only if you come ashore with the same amount of people and in roughly the same physical condition as when you left!

  17. #17
    Member bhollis's Avatar
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    Default

    I don't use a fixed "window" of time after which the authorities should be called. Every trip is different. And for each trip, I try to figure out the latest possible time we could get back. The time after which if we're not back and they haven't heard from us, something almost certainly has gone wrong. And that's the time I give my friend/relative to call the CG.

    Of course, then we make sure we either get back by then, or find a way to get word to the friend/relative that we're going to be late.

    IMHO, waiting 12 hours after you're overdue to call the CG is probably too long. If you're going out for a day of fishing, and expecting to get back by 4 pm, then the call wouldn't get made until 4 am the next morning. Too long. It isn't so much a question of starving to death as how long you might be in the water, or sitting on some remote shoreline soaking wet and slipping into hypothermia.

  18. #18
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    Default The Spot

    I have a friend that would carry his out while we would do our three dayers out in PWS and Seward and his wife would monitor our moves while she was at home. It works real well even thou we never used it for help. She would know where we where at and any given time which meant we were good to go if on the move. Good luck

    Sweepint
    Wasilla, (when not overseas)
    '' Livn' The Dream ''
    26' Hewescraft Cuddy, twin 115 Yam

  19. #19

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    Check out this website to file a float plan. It may be useful

    http://a170.uscgaux.info/d17_float_plan_page.htm

  20. #20

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    If you don't have cell phone coverage or a SPOT and you are stuck due to weather and at safe harbor, you can call the CG via VHF Ch 16, switch to 22A and request that they make a courtesy call to the contact person you give them information for and the nature of your delay. This also gives the CG a heads up if the contact person is notifying them that you are late.

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