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Consider Your Passenger's Waistline When Loading Your Boat

Contact: Anthony Turner, Chief, External Communications Division, USCG Auxiliary

LOS ANGELES, Calif – Being overweight affects more than your waistline. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the average adult American is about one inch taller, but nearly a whopping 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960. In June this year four men died in Northern California when a 14 foot aluminum boat sank. The boat was overloaded with ten passengers.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary cautions boaters not to overload their boats. This is even more significant nowadays since Americans on average weigh more than in previous years.

The U.S. Coast Guard Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971, mandates that boats less than 20 feet powered with an inboard, outboard, or stern drive engine manufactured after November 1, 1972, must display a capacity plate defining the safe load limits. This plate must be mounted where it can be seen when preparing to get underway. Although sailboats, canoes, kayaks and inflatable boats are exempt from this standard attention to safe loading for those types of boat is still important. Some States have laws prohibiting the carriage of people and gear in excess of the stated capacity.

Boaters should keep in mind that the limits defined on capacity plates apply in good to moderate weather conditions. In rough waters, boaters should keep the weight well below the limit. In ideal weather conditions, the Coast Guard Auxiliary recommends that boaters distribute loads evenly, keep weight low, and avoid abrupt changes in distribution. This is especially important when the boat's capacity is fully used or if weather conditions deteriorate. It is also important to remember that people represent a "live" load and moving about affects a boat quite differently than static loads. In general, shift human or other weight only after stopping or slowing. The number of seats in a boat is not an indication of the number of people it can safely carry.

In addition to practicing safe loading practices, boaters are reminded not to boat under the influence, always wear their life jackets, keep a working VHF marine radio on board, stay attentive while underway and avoid excessive speed.

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed civilian component of the United States Coast Guard. Created by an Act of Congress in 1939, the Auxiliary directly supports the Coast Guard in all missions, except military and direct law enforcement actions.

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