Well, my thinking was recently altered by a free web service called Float Plan Registry. If you are not familiar with this service, by all means click on the link provided and register today. It could help save your life. Did I fail to mention, it’s free?
Float Plan Registry is a site created by a boater, for boaters. It makes filing a float plan so simple that it should become routine for all of us. Once you register, you predefine all of your vessels (kayaks) and potential contact persons. The information requested for your vessel is: manufacturer, model, hull identification number, hull color, deck color, year of manufacturer, and photo, if you desire. For contact persons, you enter their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. You may add addresses if you choose. All of the information is maintained securely in the systems database. With this information in the system, it’s a simple matter of defining an itinerary and deciding at which waypoints, if any, you wish to do a check-in. The web site then mails the float plan to everyone you name in your contact list. It’s like, “file and forget.”
I like everything about the website, but what I like the most is that it is active. On the day that your float plan becomes active, all of the check-in points are monitored. If you fail to check-in by a stated date/time, your contact person is notified. (I’m guessing the notice is via e-mail, and not phone call, but who know, this could change.) The important part is that you are not forgotten. The system is monitoring your plan and steps to initiate action will be taken if you fail to make a check-in on time.
The system also allows you to “snooze” an alert.
Additional features will make this website attractive to our community. In one section you can create a “Virtual Yacht Club.” Here, you may identify friends/other kayakers and check to see where they are paddling this weekend. I think the possibilities for this system are limited only by our imaginations.
I know I will be routinely registering my outings. There are days when I get home early and want to go out before my wife gets home. I can send her a copy of my float plan that will let her know what time I can be expected and who I’m with. On those extended outings, the system will keep track of my whereabouts and notify my contacts where to begin looking should I fail to check-in on time.
If you find other uses for this registry, I’d love to hear about them. I’m always bowled over by creativity. Float Plan Registry is going to revolutionize the way we kayak, I think.
I have talked with the owner of this website. Currently, if a Check-in time is missed the system will send e-mail notifications to the contact persons for up to 8 hours afterwards. He intends to add SMS texting and a recorded phone message, but those mechanisms cost money and he wishes to keep the site free. The owner said he is considering adding a Premium version to cover the cost of such contact mechanisms. What do you think? I think it's worth it.
Also, the owner would like feedback on the "Virtual Yacht Club" function, stating that everyone seems to like it, but no one is using it. To me it's a great means to find people to kayak with.