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A boat operator should never take a boat on the water with too many people or too much gear on board. Boats loaded beyond their capacity will swamp or capsize more easily and will be more difficult to control.

  • Look for a capacity plate near the operator's position or on the transom of the boat. This plate indicates the maximum weight capacity and/or the maximum number of people that the boat can carry safely in good weather.
    • You should not exceed either the stated maximum weight capacity or the maximum number of people.
    • Maximum weight is the combined weight of passengers, gear, and motors.
    • In many states, it is a violation to exceed capacity.
  • Federal law requires single-hull boats less than 20 feet in length to have a capacity plate. (However, PWC and sailboat manufacturers are not required to attach a capacity plate.) Always follow the recommended capacity found in the owner's manual and on the manufacturer's warning decal. Never exceed these capacity recommendations.