The boating opportunities in Georiga, North Carolina, and South Carolina are endless. Time spent navigating a river, lake, or coastal region is always an enjoyable experience, but it comes with danger. The combination of seas, weather, and lack of knowledge can all lead to deadly consequences. Boating brings together friends and family because it is entertaining for everyone. Know that crafts twenty feet and under come with a max capacity, but just how vital is a boat capacity plate, and should you take it seriously?

What is a boat capacity plate and where is it located?

A boat capacity plate is a placard installed on the vessel to give information that helps to ensure safe operation. 

The plate must be permanently affixed within sight of the helm area of the vessel. It is essential so that the operator is aware of the max load. 

What information can a boat capacity plate provide?

  1. Manufacturing details

Most often, the placard will provide information to define the model and manufacturer’s information. Typically it is at the lower section of the plate. Keep in mind that the manufacturing details are not required.

  1. Horsepower

A vessel is only capable of handling a certain amount of horsepower for safe operation. The hull of a boat is designed for a certain amount of speed. Exceeding the horsepower will lead to unsafe operation and cause damage to the craft and occupants.

  1. Max number of people or weight

A boat is designed to remain boyant with a predetermined weight load. The label will most often display the maximum number taking into account weight. 

Children weigh less than adults, so the weight may be under the max person capacity; however, the weight can easily be over the limitation with fewer adults than the maximum person capacity. 

Always consider the weight of the individuals on the boat to have a better idea of a safe limit. However, it may not be necessary to ask each friend or family member their weight. 

  1. Maximum vessel weight capacity

The occupants of a boat have a significant impact on the total safe weight capacity of a craft. In addition to people, both the gear and motor add to the total weight limit. 

For everyday trips, gear weight is most often minimal. For vacations by boat with coolers, supplies, clothes, and more, the weight can quickly add up. Take into account the people and additional gear. 

What are the risks of an overloaded vessel?


Sudden turns or uneven weight distribution can lead to a boat capsizing. When the center of gravity is not central, it makes the boat far more prone to rolling over, throwing its occupants into the water for improper steering or rough conditions.


Exceeding the weight capacity will cause the boat to sit lower in the water. A lower freeboard can create a multitude of problems.

Boat wakes are more likely to splash over the craft’s side, causing it to be inundated with water and causing a potentially deadly situation.

Stuffing the bow is another serious concern. The bow area of a boat is where many tend to congregate. A loaded front of the craft can cause it to dip underwater, causing water to pour in. Guests can be swept over the side, and the boat will become more unstable if it remains afloat. 


An overloaded boat will reduce the ability to navigate. The operator’s line of sight can quickly become obscured, resulting in the possibility of collision.

Distraction is another concern. Occupants engaging in conversation with the driver can lead the operator to become distracted and not focus on the waters ahead. 

The uneven distribution of weight by guests is a big concern. No matter if the weight is distributed in the bow, stern, port, or starboard side, uneven distribution will cause the boat to become unstable. Not to mention that you are going to burn quite a bit more fuel when your boat has too many people on it.

Conclusion- Do you take a boat capacity plate seriously?

The answer is yes! Overloading a boat has led to avoidable deaths countless times. Know the vessel’s weight loads to keep everyone onboard safe because they are the operator’s responsibility. Even if the occupants are within the weight range, distribute the persons evenly to ensure safe operation. Always take the capacity of the boat seriously. You and your family’s life depends on it.