Float Plans & Position Reports
The Net accepts two types of reports
on boaters' locations, POSITION REPORTS and
The details on why and how to file each are explained below.
Please be sure you understand the difference between the two.
POSITION REPORTS: Position reports are by far the most common check-in for yachting hams and are filed during the Position Report segment of the Net. They are a casual way for members to let friends and family know their progress during their cruise, as opposed to the formal report of a Float Plan.
Use names of well known towns, harbors, islands, etc. It takes extra time if we have to keep asking you to repeat your location or destination. If possible, include the State you are in so there is no mix-up like between Beaufort, NC and Beaufort, SC (yes, we know they're pronounced differently), or Jackson Creek . . . VA or MD or?
When reporting positions in latitude and longitude use degrees and whole minutes. Do not add "dot', "point", "decimal", or "slash" between degrees and minutes. We want to avoid the confusion of "degrees and minutes" versus "decimal degrees" i.e. 29 50' North (read as 29 degrees and 50 minutes) is not the same as 29 "point" 50 which would equate to 29.5 degrees (29 degrees and 30 minutes). If the Fleet Captain needs to pass your position to the Coast Guard for a rescue attempt it is imperative that there be no confusion in the numbers. It also helps understanding if numbers are reported individually one at a time: i.e. two, nine, five, zero North instead of twenty nine, fifty (did she say fifty, or fifteen? Was it twenty-nine or thirty-nine?).
We do not want these suggestions to intimidate you or stop you from checking into the Waterway Net. It is meant to be fun and one of the best ways to meet other hams is to find out you are in the same area simply by checking in at Position Report time.
FLOAT PLANS: Float Plans are a formal way to report your position every day on an open water or hazardous crossing. Float Plans are taken very seriously by the Net and are normally filed only for offshore passages since running the Waterway is usually safe as you are moving only in daylight and anchoring or docking at night, and you are within VHF range of the Coast Guard should you need assistance. The Waterway Net cannot accept Float Plans that extend beyond our area of coverage simply because we would not know if you did not check in because you were in trouble or were merely out of our range.
If you do file a Float Plan, be prepared to respond when the Fleet Captain calls you at the beginning of Position Report and Float Plan time. YOU WILL BE CALLED EVERY DAY UNTIL YOU CLOSE YOUR FLOAT PLAN. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO CHECK INTO THE NET DAILY WHILE YOUR FLOAT PLAN IS OPEN, AND TO CLOSE IT WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION. Please take it seriously if you wish to enter into a Float Plan - we do. It is also your responsibility to notify your contact person that you will be filing the Float Plan and instruct them as to your wishes should you not report in on schedule. Tell them that a member of the Net will call, collect, with the information that you have not checked in for 24 hours. It will be that person's responsibility to decide what action, if any, shall be taken. If no one answers the call or the person answering fails to make a decision, we will notify the Coast Guard that you failed to check in and the Net shall have no other obligation or responsibility. (We did tell you this was serious)
You must pre-file your Float Plan. You may do this during the Traffic segment of the Net if you take the Fleet Captain off the Net frequency or by pre-arranged SSB schedule. You may file by e-mail, to the Fleet Captain. If you do file by email, be sure to check in to the Net before departing, to ensure that your Float Plan has been received and radio contact can be made! If you have previously filed and are sure that your boat and contact information is up to date, you do not have to pre-file and may simply file during the the Position Report section of the Net with the appropriate trip information.
Note: If you prefer, you can also download and use the USCG Float Plan Form at FloatPlanCentral.Org Adobe Reader required.