What is a sail plan? A sail plan is a voyage itinerary, which includes travel route and basic details of the vessel. If you are taking a long trip, it is recommended that you file a daily position report (especially if your planned route has changed). All voyagers are encouraged to file one with a responsible person before heading out. Be sure to deactivate the sail plan you have filed by reporting that you have returned or completed your trip to avoid launching an unwarranted search for you. Assuming you have left it with a responsible individual, the person holding your sail plan should be instructed to contact the Rescue Coordination Centre if you are overdue.
"Why bother?" you may ask. Better a few minutes of delay onshore or at the dock than hours of delay in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. Knowingly operating a pleasure craft that is not seaworthy is a criminal offence. This means the vessel, engine and equipment must be in working order.
The number of boaters stranded each year is significant. More than 50% of the calls for assistance received by federal Rescue Coordination Centres were from boaters who were in trouble as a result of the mechanical failure of their boats. One especially common cause of breakdown is simply running out of fuel.
A boating trip should be fun, safe and hassle-free. Before heading out, make sure your vessel is in good working order and properly equipped.
Start with an inspection of the hull: look for cracks or other damage. If your vessel is equipped with an engine, check that the throttle is operating smoothly. Verify that the steering mechanism is operating properly. Check the oil and fuel levels. A good rule of thumb for fuel is one-third for the trip out, one-third for the return and one-third as reserve. Are all hoses, clamps and belts secure and in good shape? Check the battery's charge and its fluid levels.
Avoid inconvenience and potential danger by taking a few minutes with this checklist:
- What is the weather forecast?
- Are there any local hazards or boating restrictions?
- Do I have maps or charts?
- Are there enough personal flotation devices of appropriate size for everyone
- on board?
- Is all safety equipment in good working order?
- Do you have ample reserves of fuel for the trip or will you need to refuel?
- Is your VHF radio working properly?
- Do you have a First aid kit, basic tools and spare parts?
- Have you let someone know where you're going, when to expect you back and what your boat looks like?
Additional Information on how to make a Sail Plan may be found at the following site: http://www.tc.gc.ca/BoatingSafety/sbg-gsn/intro.htm
Information provided courtesy of the Office of Boating Safety Canada<< Back