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How to Prevent Overloading Your Boat

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  • How to Prevent Overloading Your Boat

    We get a lot of claims that come in that are due to overloading a boat. We wanted to share some information on why it us so dangerous and how to avoid overloading, and with that, an unwanted claim.

    Every boat or personal watercraft has a maximum capacity in terms of weight and persons aboard recommended by the manufacturer. When planning an outing on the water, it is of the highest importance to follow these guidelines. A boat that carries a weight beyond its capacity is much more difficult to handle and leaves you vulnerable to capsizing. Not only is exceeding this capacity a violation in many states, but overloading your boat is a major safety risk.

    The first step to avoid overloading is to know and understand how much weight your specific make and model can handle. There should be a capacity plate near the operator’s area or on the transom of the boat. Watercraft less than 20 feet are required to have a capacity plate. Watercraft less than 26 feet are required by the National Marine Manufacturers Association to have a capacity plate to qualify for a NMMA certification.

    This capacity plate will state the maximum weight capacity in pounds and/or the maximum number of people permitted. You should never exceed either of these recommendations. The manufacturer of your vessel knows what your boat can handle safely. Keep in mind that the weight recommendation includes more than people – equipment, accessories and any additions or improvements to the boat contribute to the overall weight.

    You should also consider your boat’s maximum horsepower rating when re-powering the boat and avoid exceeding this limit. The capacity plate will display this as well.

    Finally, make sure your passengers are all wearing life jackets. Personal flotation devices are very important to boating safety. Check to make sure they are in good condition and U.S. Coast Guard approved. In addition, make sure to have the required navigation lights, fire extinguishers, an emergency indicating radio beacon, a flashlight, flares, and a first-aid kit.