Ahoy!

The bug hunters can put away their hoop nets, since lobster season ended Wednesday in Southern California. I love to eat Panulirus interruptus, but now I will have a break until the next season begins Sept. 27.

While your hoop nets are gathering dust, you can read the latest regulations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Its website (http://www.dfg.ca.gov) has detailed information about regulations, latest news, marine life management, licenses and new mobile phone apps.

As one activity concludes, another family activity is closing in on the radar. You may have noticed the temporary docks being installed at Lido Marina Village in Newport Harbor.

These docks will be lined with boats for the 41st annual Newport Boat Show from April 3 to 6. This show is known as the premier boat show on the West Coast, and the event always has a great display of more than 200 boats.

Point your browser to http://www.newportinwaterboatshow.com for details and tickets. A big tip from me is to use the offsite parking and ride the free bus. You will save yourself parking fees, a potential parking ticket and the effort of trying to find a parking space by the water.

I will have more information about the show when it is closer to the center of my radar.

Tip of the week is for every skipper to fill out a float plan and leave it with someone reliable before you cruise offshore. At least tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back safely in the slip.

However, a plan will be the most helpful means to find you if you don't come home or show up at your destination. Remember, it is a big ocean and you are nothing more than a dot on the horizon. The float plan provides the necessary information to start a search on both sea and land, and narrows down the initial search area.

Most private towing companies allow their members to file a float plan that a dispatcher will monitor, or you can fill out a form similar to the Coast Guard's online form for your trip. This interactive PDF is located at http://www.floatplancentral.org/download/USCGFloatPlan.pdf. Just remember to give a copy to someone.

On any form, you should include who is onboard and their emergency phone numbers or contact, which is overlooked often. Then the vessel make, length and colors, trip expectations and onshore vehicle information that lists the cars parked at the marina.

The reason for the vehicle information is that sometimes people wander on their way home, and if the cars are missing from the parking lot and the boat is in the slip, then searching the ocean is not necessary. Usually searchers will look to the nearest bar or restaurant for the missing boaters.

Furthermore, call the person who is monitoring your float plan when you have finished boating. This will prevent an unnecessary call to the Coast Guard or Harbor Department.

On my long trips, I leave a float plan with a few people as backup, and I have check-in points so someone can update the plan holders. This narrows the search area from the whole route to a specific section and can help alleviate the anxiety of loved ones on shore, especially when crossing to Hawaii or running coastal in rough weather.

Please be boat smart and boat safe. Lastly, please boat responsibly and look behind you before you turn the wheel at the helm.

Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting live coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network. See times at http://www.boathousetv.com, http://www.facebook.com/boathouseradio and http://www.twitter.com/boathouseradio.

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to mike@boathousetv.com or go to http://www.boathousetv.com.