Friday, March 1, 2013

Float Plan Essential Apps

Application: iPhone
Function: Sharing Float Plan boating safety information
Rating: ***
Cost: $Free to $2.99

Compliments of the US Coast Guard

I had an email from blog follower this week who asked if I had reviewed any Float Plan apps.  I had to think a minute because I have reviewed almost 200 marine apps.  There are several that do logging but I don't think I have reviewed any with the ability to file a float plan.  A float plan is of course a short form detailing information of your plans for the day on the water.  It can be emailed to friends or family prior to your departure letting your loved ones know what your up to.  Data in the plan may include, boat name, boat photo, captain, crew, date, time, boat type, destination, departing time, returning time, propulsion, communications, and safety gear.

Aircraft have been doing flight plans for years and smart boaters are catching on to the idea of filing a FLOAT PLAN before they head out on the water. This is not only smart but will give you and people who care about you some peace of mind when you check in.

Just this week a 29 foot sailboat was reported sinking off the California coast. Several MayDay calls were heard before the boat went down but no location was given. The Coast Guard searched with no success in locating these sailors.  No one has been reported as missing so they don't know who it could be. The search was called off on Tuesday, February 26th.

If these folks had filed a float plan someone would be missing them at this point and would have reported it with a possible course or destination, giving the rescuers a place to start.

It can happen that fast, so whether you heading out on your kayak for the day or doing the Trans Pac on your sailboat it makes good sense to let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.

A quick search of the AppStore revealed a list of possible apps for preparing a quick digital float plan with your iPhone.

The Coast Guard has a free  PDF float plan available here that  you can fill out and email to your family and friends.


Float Plan $1.99
Big Tuna LLC

Big Tuna, I like these guys already.  If you have an Internet connection it is easy to quickly file your float plan before or while your starting on your adventure.  It is a great way to let your best buds know what your up to.  The default plan can easily be filled out with a few important facts about your boat, captain, crew, destination, and estimated return times.  The float plan can be sent to anyone in your address book.

The default plan can be updated to include any additional information needed.  The float plan will give you some peace of mind and help rescuers find your party's location in case of an emergency or incident a sea.
 
Features:

  • File a float plan with your loved ones in less than 60 seconds
  • Single tap on integrated map sets your launch / destination GPS coordinates
  • Free Text type your launch / destination points
  • Email Boat, Captain, Passenger, and Trip Info to your trusted contacts
  • Integrates with phone's contacts / address book
  • Edit default Float Plan email for a more personal touch
  • Social Media integration to encourage friends / family to practice Safe & Responsible boating

This one has some nice features and integrates GPS positions and maps for setting your destination and launch points.


Float Plan - Boating Safety $2.99
Siegleco LLC

Float Plan allows you to store details about your vessels, crew and trip itinerary and then assists you in emailing that information from your iPhone to a responsible person you trust.

Each time out simply change the itinerary dates and time and email the new float plan to friends and family with a click of a button.  The whole idea is to make is fast and easy to people will get in the habit of filing these plans.

Float Plan now allows you to enter multiple trip destinations, multiple crew and even multiple vessels.  A feature that I did not see in any other app was the ability to add a photo of the vessel that will be attached to the emailed float plan.

Features:
  • Easily check off the combination of vessel, crew and destinations you want included in your float plan .
  • Add dates and times to the destinations and click a button to email
  • Settings function
  • Enter multiple destinations
  • Email recipients
  • Destinations are sorted by name and date
  • Set primary recipient email
  • Email to more than one party
This one seemed more full featured and allowed more versatility when selecting boats, crew and destinations.

Gone Boating Marine Safety $1.99
LBS Wireless LLC

The Gone Boating app is a location aware safety notification application for boating enthusiasts. It utilizes the GPS, Google maps, calendar and camera features of the iPhone. The app enables the user to record their departure, destination and waypoint information. The application incorporates social media and allows you to to email or post a Twitter message.  Floats plans messages include boat trip details and maps.

Features:
  • Record boat, crew and safety equipment details.
  • Record trip start, trip end and waypoint dates and times using the scrolling calendar
  • Record trip start, trip end and waypoint locations using the GPS, map screen and search function.
  • Take a photo of their boat
  • Email boat trip details and maps to family or friends
  • Post a Twitter message containing their boat trip details
  • Notify their family or friends if they decide to change their dates, times or location details.
  • Notify their family or friends when they have returned or reached their destination.
The GPS and Google maps and camera features put this app head an shoulders above the rest.

BoatSafe $0.99    Free Version
HabourLight Solutions LLC

BoatSafe allows boaters and sailors to create a plan for their outdoor activities.  It lets the boater provide email communication to emergency contacts or other participants if needed.



Features:
  • Passengers
  • Car/Trailer Information
  • Vessel Information
  • Excursion Information
  • Marina Information
  • Supply List
  • Float Plan Notes
  • Email function
The user can then email the plan to the participants and/or emergency contacts.

The status indicator can be modified for each float plan.  A history of all float plans is maintained.  Previous plans can be copied and updated with the new information such as passengers and date. Plans can then be email to the passengers and emergency contacts.

I like that the app save all float plans and that you can copy and re-use them. I tried the free version but it had little functionality and kept crashing during use.

eFloatPlan $0.99
Island Wilson

eFloatPlan makes it quick and easy to file your float plan.  The app keeps a record of  the vessel's information and all vessel's safety equipment. Crew member and passenger information are kept on file as well.

Quickly select who's on board, where you're going and when you'll be back and the app will compose a complete and detailed float plan.  The plan can then be send to the responsible individual you choose.  An Internet or cell connection is needed to send the email.

eFloatPlan has a unique audible alarm that will sound 15 minutes before you are supposed to check-in.  You can then send a “Safe Arrival” message to the original float plan's recipient letting them know you have returned.

Features:
  • Multiple waypoints on float plans each with optional alert
  • Audible reminder to close float plan
  • Handles multiple vessels and simultaneous float plans
  • Keep old float plans on file to track voyage history
  • Record of all past passengers

I like the audible alarm feature but wish it had a way to Tweet or post to Facebook the float plan info.

Float Plan - Essential Tools for Boaters $Free
Ponagator Inc

The application allows you to easily input information about your boat such as size, color, boat name, registration information, and a contact phone number, as well as additional notes that may be important such as passenger lists and safety equipment on board.

Once the information is entered into the app it is stored in your phone.  There is no need to reenter the data unless it changes. Once you submit your Float Plan your information along with a map link to your exact location will be emailed to the recipients you have identified in your settings.

Features:
  • Entered boat, crew, contact and safety information is stored
  • Boat year, make and model
  • Phone #
  • Boat MMSI
  • Google Map
  • The use of GPS technology that sends a map link by way of e-mail which pinpoints your location.
  • The ability to store vessels and contact information.
  • Update and close plan feature
The app has all the basic features and the included Google map is an added bonus. The update feature allows you to add stops along the way. The app is free and provides the basic functionality needed to file a basic float plan.

Now that I have looked through all of the float plan apps, I am going to be more diligent about sharing and submitting floats plans when I take to the high seas. These are just a few of the many float plan apps out there.  Of all the apps listed, Gone Boating Marine Safety appears to be the most full featured and incorporates the most data.  It will cost you a whole $1.99. If you can't afford that one try some of the free ones that will give you some basic functionality.

Lets all get in the habit of submitting float plans not just for our peace of mind but for the peace of mind it will bring our loved ones left on shore.

~~~ Sail On~~~ /) but file your float plan first!
Mark

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