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Boating Basics

Vessel Capacity

Always check the capacity plate, which is usually found near the operator’s position or on the vessel’s transom. This plate indicates the maximum weight capacity and maximum number of people that the vessel can carry safely.

Personal watercraft (PWC) and some other vessels are not required to have a capacity plate. Always follow the recommended capacity in the owner’s manual and on the manufacturer’s warning decal.

On vessels with no capacity plate, a simple formula can provide a guide. Multiply length (in feet) by width (in feet) and divide the result by 15. This will give you the maximum number of people at an average weight of 150 lbs. that the boat will accommodate safely under calm water conditions. This information can be found on the U.S. Coast Guard’s (USCG) boating safety website:

Vessel capacity plate
Capacity plate