CHAPTER 1: The Boat
One of the most important things you need to know before setting out on the water is the maximum number of people and maximum amount of weight that your boat can safely handle. Not only is this an important safety concern, it’s also the law.
Federal Law mandates that all powerboats less than twenty feet in length need to carry this information in the form of a Capacity Plate.
Each Capacity Plate includes the maximum number of adult persons, the maximum gross load, and the maximum size of engine, in horsepower, that your boat can legally carry.
The next time you’re around a boat, look for its Capacity Plate; it should be permanently fastened near the steering area, or the helm.
Before any boat trip, you’ll want to make sure that you are not taking more people onboard than is indicated by the Maximum Person number, and that you don’t have more total weight than is indicated by the Maximum Gross Load. The Maximum Gross Load is the total weight your boat can handle, including people, equipment, stores, fuel, engine assembly and steering controls. If your boat doesn’t have a Capacity Plate, you can calculate the number of people you can safely take onboard using the following equation.
If your boat doesn’t have a Capacity Plate, you can calculate the number of people you can safely take onboard using the following equation.
Number of people = vessel length (ft.) x vessel width (ft.) ÷ 15
First, find out the length and width of your boat in feet. Then multiply those two numbers and divide by fifteen.
So, if your boat is ten feet long and three feet wide, you would divide thirty by fifteen to get two.
The maximum number of people that you can safely take onboard is two.
Note that personal watercraft do not have a capacity plate. For P-W-C’s, always follow the recommended capacity in the owner’s manual and on the manufacturer’s warning decal.
Finally, the Capacity Plate will also indicate the maximum engine power for your boat, given in horsepower. This number applies only to boats powered by outboard engines; and it must never be exceeded.