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Boating Basics

Vessel Capacity

Always check the capacity plate to make sure you don’t swamp or capsize your vessel. This plate is usually found near the operator’s position or on the vessel’s transom. It indicates the maximum weight capacity and maximum number of people that the vessel can carry safely. It also indicates the maximum horsepower.

Capacity plates are required on single-hull vessels that are less than 20 feet in length.

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.

Capacity Plate
Example capacity plate

Verbatim statute regarding overloading: Vessel capacity is regulated as per Section 323, CMR2.07(7). No vessel may be operated in an overloaded condition. Overloaded condition means that the number of persons on board and/or the cargo being carried exceeds the manufacturer’s recommended limit for such vessel or is excessive given windy water and weather conditions.


Overloading your boat can lead to capsizing.
Capsizing means that you could wind up in the water!