Chapter 1: The Basics of Your Boat

Following your Maximum Capacities

Now that it is known what the capacity plate indicates, one can apply these values and promote safety, starting with the maximum person capacity.

It is important to remember that the maximum person capacity is a guideline, and certain variables can change the actual amount of people one can have on board. When manufacturers determine maximum person capacity of a vessel, they calculate it by assuming the weight of each person at around one hundred and fifty pounds. Never load more than the listed maximum person capacity, even if each of the passengers weigh well under the manufacturer's guideline.

However, if every passenger weighs over that amount, exercise caution and decrease the number of people allowed to board. Also, remember that the maximum person capacity does not account for equipment. So, if heavy equipment or supplies are loaded, the number of people allowed on board may change.

In regard to overloading a vessel, always ensure that the vessel is not carrying more than its maximum gross load. If overloaded, one is increasing the chance of swamping, and the overburdened boat has a higher chance of taking on water. Also, even under maximum load, distribute the weight evenly throughout the vessel because a grave imbalance can also lead to capsizing.

Boat Capacities

The other limit, presented by the capacity plate, is the maximum horsepower. If one overpowers a boat, by using an engine which exceeds maximum horsepower, it will be difficult to control and therefore highly dangerous.

Finally, remember that unfavorable weather conditions demand extra caution. If the waves are higher, due to a storm, one will have more difficulty controlling the vessel. Take much lighter loads if there's a chance that one may encounter poor weather conditions.

Always follow the guidelines indicated by the capacity plate/calculations. Remember that these federal and state guidelines are put in place for everyone's safety.