Filing a Float Plan
Once you decide that weather and other local conditions will be good for your boating trip, you should file a float plan with a contact person who will not be on the boat with you. If you don't get back as expected, this person will have all the necessary information to get help for you. If you do have an accident or for some reason do not return as planned, your contact person can alert rescue authorities, who will respond in a much faster, more focused way.
The U.S. Coast Guard publishes a form that you can fill out for your float plan. On the front of the form, you will be leaving detailed information about your expected destination, as well as a description of your boat, the course you plan to take, the time of departure, the time you expect to return, and the number of people on board. If you change your plans after you fill out the float plan, be sure you let your contact person know. The back of the form gives your contact person a detailed step-by-step process to follow in case you do not return as planned.