There are many reasons to take a canoe float trip. A canoe float trip gets you out onto the water, allows you to explore the shores and wilderness surrounding rivers, creeks and streams. While many who take float trips go with a large youth group or group of friends, some choose to take a float trip with just their partner or spouse. Certainly there’s safety in numbers, but it’s a smart idea to file a plan with a friend who’s staying behind or a local outfitter. You’ll also want to keep a copy of the plan with you to help you stay on course, on schedule and as a means to prevent you and your party from getting lost. There’s no rule book for making a float plan but there are pieces of information you should include. To create an effective canoe float trip plan you’ll need maps, GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) coordinates for the trip, paper and pen or a computer and printer.
First, gather maps of the area where you plan to take your canoe float trip so you can determine your camping areas and your departure and take-out points. If you have a GPS, you can write down the geographic coordinates for these locations. But if it’s easier for you and the friend keeping the plan, you can write down the names of the areas. You can provide this information on your float plan with the headers “Departure Point, Take-Out Point and Proposed Camping Areas.”
Second, you’ll need to provide the proposed dates and times for each of these. If you plan to depart from the Meramec River on 7/7/12, you’ll want to provide this information under the “Departure Point” heading. Do the same for each of the campsite areas, providing the estimated dates of arrival and departure. Under the “Take-out Point” heading, provide either the geographic coordinates or name of the area and the date and time you plan to return.
Third, you should also provide the name of every person in your party along with the names and phone numbers to contact in the event of an emergency. And don’t forget to include information about any pets that will be along on the float trip as well, providing the dog’s name and breed.
Fourth, include a list of all the gear and food you plan to bring on your float trip. Make a photo copy of the map of your trip, marking your departure point, camping areas and take-out points to coincide with your written float trip plan.
Fifth, once you arrive at your departure point, provide the outfitter or land management agency with a copy of your float trip plan. Let them know when you plan to return from your trip. Arrange a preset time to call the outfitter to inform them of your safe arrival as well as a time for the outfitter to contact emergency personnel should you fail to call or respond. If you plan to return by noon on 7/10/12, the outfitter knows they should contact emergency personnel if they don’t hear from you within a 24 hour grace period.
Finally, if something happens to the outfitter or the friend who stayed behind, it’s good to also leave a copy of your float plan on the dashboard of a trip member’s car that’s parked at the departure point and take-out point. Be sure to mark the envelope “Float Trip Plan” so others can easily see it and find you sooner if there’s a disaster. Failure to plan is a plan for failure. When you file a float trip plan you ensure you and your party’s safety. Be safe and have fun.