Float Plan Question

Do you leave a copy of your float plan on your car’s dashboard for others to see?

Are you concerned that hooligans will see the emergency contact info and spam the phone numbers? Or see the plan and realize you’ll be gone for awhile and break into your car?

I’ve always sent my plan to someone else either by electronic means or paper copy. I usually don’t leave it on the dash of my car, but having read some accident reports wonder if I should do that. I’m usually parked in public lots where people might be walking past the car.

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Give it to a responsible partner or friends. They can set an alarm on their phone. Delayed you can call and extend or modify your plan. People walking by won’t bother looking or caring. Ll

Crook walks by your car you could be missing your :cat2:

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I have it easy. I’m a day paddler and my wife stays home. So I write a quick summary of my plan (just launch point and approximate route) and leave it with her. I don’t like advertising that my car and trailer will be unattended for a pre-determined time. If I’m running substantially late, I’ll text and let my wife know.


I do a float plan but never leave it in public As PD says you don’t want to rely on a random noticing. Tell a trusted person(better to leave in writing) where you will be going and your expected ETA.
If it is a multi day trip I give my directions not to call for rescue till a day later. Otherwise call the same day.

What does leaving it on your dash do? By the time cops are concerned your probably dead anyway or on Gilligan’s Island.

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The rationale is someone will see your car sitting there for x hours or days and go check it out, find float plan and call for help when the plan says you’re overdue. Or cop sees it when slipping the ticket under your wipers.

The times I’ve been out kayak camping out in the Boston Harbor Islands, I leave the itinery with my wife. I call the local police headquarters to let them know my car is parked in the landing launch lot and when I’ll be back.

If I am just going out for the day, I let my wife know my destination/paddling venue and when I expect to be home. I call if I am running late.

That’s it.



It looks like the ACA had an app for this at one point called Paddle Ready. No longer available.

Leaving a float plan on your car risks telling potential thieves and vandals how long it will be until your get back. It could be days before an honest person realizes that you have not returned.

Leave a copy with a trusted fiend or local authorities.


On remote trips leaving a float plan is a good idea.
On busy rivers, there is plenty of help around and no need to broadcast your intentions.

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Absolutely not. No sense tempting someone. I leave it home with my wife. She has the Float Plan and all requisite numbers (outfitter, Ranger station or police, etc). Most of our canoe camp trips are 3 or 4 days and she knows when we are supposed to be off and I send here texts periodically either with my phone or my In Reach GPS, so she knows where we are.

Yeah, never leave it on the vehicle.

Many years ago one of my housemates took a weekend canoe trip in northern PA and left his pristine BMW sedan parked at the put in. I got a call that Sunday morning from the police up there asking for him and explained he was out of town. The officer asked me if my housemate owned a BMW because they had found his car. I said “yes, a burgundy one.” The officer replied that they could not determine the color of the car as it had been burned.

Eventually one of the redneck idiots who torched the car got drunk and bragged about it at a bar and was turned in to the police. Fortunately my roomie was able to get the insurance company to cover his replacing it with a 2 year’s newer used BMW after he was able to substantiate how pristinely he had maintained the lost one. But his dismay at returning from the shuttle and finding his car and everything he had left inside it reduced to a charred hulk was pretty devastating.


It’s only fitting that alcohol helped solve the crime it was probably responsible (at least partly) for causing in the first place. Glad it worked out OK for your housemate.

“To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life’s problems.”
— Homer Simpson

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I leave my Float Plan with my Daughter and with the woman across the street. Then I call both when I return. So far, no problems but I also know that if I decide to remain an extra day, my kid may call the Sheriff and they will charge me for a rescue I did not need.

You have to consider the location. I have had vehicles broken into in norther California. Around Redding you need someone to look after your vehicle. At Lake Shasta out of town plates and an empty trailer are like a neon sign for break ins.

At a class in western Virginia I mentioned leaving my float plan in the window of my truck. I got the strangers are dangerous lecture from the instructor. When we reached the take out a stranger helped me move the canoe out of the way of others needing the space. When I returned with the truck the same stranger helped me move the canoe to the truck. I loaded up and left without ever seeing anyone from my party again. I’ve only been canoeing for a short time but I’ve been messing around in boats my whole life and whether on the water, at the ramp, or on the highway, about 80% of the time any assistance received has been from people I didn’t know.

Around here I tell a cousin and a good friend which creek I am going to and the approximate put in time. I launch at coming high tide and go upstream. On the plan, in my window, is a description of the canoe, me and the dog, and the phone numbers of the cousin and friend and the local Marine Patrol. “Please call if I am not back by dark.” Knock on wood—so far I have not needed any help.

I will say this about that. “Home” is a peninsula 60 miles long and approximately 10 miles wide at its widest, between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic ocean. In this area anyone at the launch site is most likely a resident. You really have to know where you are to find these places. The general feeling around here is that everyone is your neighbor.

So I guess location is important.

P.S. The truck has never been broken in to. Anyone planning to break in wouldn’t read the sign anyway.

Great story. Reminds me of a small town in NW Minnesota near where I once lived. Several years ago, the town bank was robbed. The perps were apprehended a couple of hours later on their way back to Minneapolis because the locals could provide the make, model, year, color and license plate of the getaway car. The residents had noticed it around town; they knew it wasn’t a local car.

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I am usually out for one day or 2 weeks so I don’t rely on random people to notice my car and call for help. For two week trips I leave an itinerary and emergency contact info for the location I am paddling as an electronic document with a trusted contact. For one day trips, I say what time I expect to be back at. Also I almost always carry an InReach and I can sent a message if I am not going to be back when I expected to be. Texting works well for most people, but I live in an area where cell service is intermittent and I usually paddle in areas where it is non-existent.

Just to close the loop: I decided that leaving the plan on the dashboard was probably not the best plan in my situation. I already leave a text message with my wife and other family with my launch point, route, timing etc.

There are several Float Plans floating around the web. I took one, adjusted it for my needs (added CG number, make, model and description of my boat, and some other information) and laminated it. In addition to the text messages, I’ll write in the details with a dry erase marker and leave the plan on my 'fridge.

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