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Vessel Capacity

Check the Capacity Plate

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

  • The vessel operator is responsible for loading and powering the vessel safely and may not exceed any of the capacity limits. This requirement also applies to vessel owners who are allowing others to operate the vessel.
  • The limits on a vessel's capacity plate are strictly enforced.

Vessels Without a Capacity Plate

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 less than 20 feet in length without a capacity plate, you can use the following rule of thumb to calculate the number of persons (weighing 150 pounds each, on average) that the vessel can carry safely in good weather conditions.

Number of people = vessel length (ft.) x vessel width (ft.) ÷ 15

When determining the number of people on board a vessel, persons on water skis, inner tubes, or similar devices are counted as passengers even when they are being towed and must be included in the maximum number of people allowed. For information on the laws for overloading or overpowering a vessel, see Unlawful and Dangerous Operation.

Capacity Plate

Capacity plate example