Global Marine: Dangers of Exceeding Maximum Capacity

You know you should always carry boat insurance coverage in case you are in a boating accident. However, most accidents can be easily avoided by meeting specific safety standards. One critical guideline is the boat’s maximum capacity. Most boats display a metal plaque that denotes their maximum capacity requirements. The maximum capacity of a particular vessel is expressed in a specific number of people or a total weight.

You are over the boat’s safety capacity if its passengers exceed either the number or the weight posted, even if one of them is under the limit. When evaluating your boat’s capacity, everyone counts, both adults and children. For weight estimations, make sure you include all items brought on board, along with each person. You should also reduce the overall weight carried in a boat during operation in rough or poor weather conditions.

You can find a boat’s capacity limit in the owner’s manual and on a capacity plate in the boat, typically near the helm. However, if your boat is 25 feet or less there is an easy formula that allows you to estimate a boat’s maximum capacity. Simply multiply the boat length in feet times the boat width in feet and then divide that number by fifteen. Your answer will represent the number of people that can safely board your boat. This formula can be helpful for quick planning but remember it’s just an estimate. Make sure that you are familiar with the precise maximum capacity before leaving the dock.

Boat capacity is vital for vessels to experience safe and effective operations. If boaters ignore this extremely important safety standard, very dangerous situations can occur. Overloaded boats run a high risk of capsizing or swamping. Capsizing refers to a boat turned over on its side or flipped over upside down and swamping occurs when the vessel fills with water.

Loading more onto a boat that it was designed to handle may cause severe instability and it is never safe to capsize a boat even in warm water. Passengers falling overboard and boats capsizing account for over one half of all boating fatalities nationwide. Keep in mind if you do exceed the maximum capacity of the vessel, you may void your boat insurance policy. Without a valid boat insurance policy you would be responsible for damages and you may also be held liable for any injuries.

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