How Overloading Your Vessel Can Prove Deadly
When taking your boat out for a fun day on the water, you may feel pressure to exceed the maximum capacity or weight limitations of your vessel. Overloading your vessel, however, can be dangerous and may even prove deadly. It is important to heed the manufacturer’s capacity limitations to ensure a safe voyage for you and your passengers.
State and Federal Law on Capacity
Per Section 327.52 of the Florida Statutes, with the exception of sailboats, all monohull motorboats less than 20 feet long that are primarily used for noncommercial use must display the maximum capacity information in order to be sold or offered for sale. Federal law requires that the information be posted permanently in a visible location.
Additionally, the state law says that no one can operate one of these vessels if it exceeds the maximum weight, person, or horsepower capacity. The crime of reckless operation may be charged if the vessel is grossly overpowered or overloaded.
Why Overloading a Boat Is Unsafe
Exceeding a vessel’s maximum weight or person capacity can result in a number of serious issues while on the water. Foremost, an overloaded vessel is more difficult to operate. As explained by Boating World, a boat that exceeds its maximum weight capacity has to use more fuel and is more prone to capsizing or swamping (filling with water).
Overloading a boat can also make it less stable. With too much weight, particularly on one side, a boat’s center of gravity changes making it more difficult to maneuver and potentially causing a catastrophe.
The capacity information is required to be displayed in a place where the operator can see it. It is important to take into account not only the number of people on the boat but also any gear or cargo that adds weight to the vessel. You should never exceed either the maximum person capacity or the maximum weight capacity.
Calculating Per Person Capacity
The person capacity is usually based on a 150 pounds per person average. Therefore, you will need to know the average weight of your passengers to ensure that you do not exceed the weight capacity. Most capacity plates will provide information on not only the person capacity but also the total person weight capacity and the persons, motors, and gear weight capacity.
Before operating a vessel, it is critical that you understand how many people can safely board the boat. Failure to understand a boat’s capacity can have deadly results on the water. If you are unsure about the capacity of your vessel, you can check the manufacturer’s guide. Capacity information, however, is now required to be permanently displayed on most recreational vessels.
Were You Injured Due to an Overloaded Boat?
If you were injured on a boat that was overloaded or exceeded its maximum weight capacity, you might be entitled to compensation. Contact Mase Seitz Briggs to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We have been helping injury victims for over 20 years and will work tirelessly to give you the superior legal representation you deserve. Call our office today at (844) 627-3529 to get started.