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Maximum Capacity and Seating Passengers in Pleasure Craft

March 3, 2023

When preparing for an outing on the water, it’s important to be mindful of your boat’s maximum capacity. Overloading your vessel with passengers or equipment can have serious consequences.

Most pleasure craft under 6 m in Canada have a compliance notice on board that indicates the maximum load the vessel can safely carry. Note that this is the limit for good conditions, and the boat’s capacity will be lower in difficult weather.

How should passengers be seated in a pleasure craft?

Passengers should not sit on the gunwales, bow, seat backs or anywhere that is not specifically intended for seating. Particularly in a small boat, it’s important to evenly distribute and balance the weight of all passengers and equipment.

The weight should also be kept as low in the boat as possible, so passengers should remain seated while underway. If someone needs to move, they should keep 3 points of contact with the boat as all times (e.g. two feet, one hand).

What emergency situations do you risk if you overload your pleasure craft?

Exceeding your vessel’s maximum capacity will render it unstable and more likely to take on water. Your boat may become swamped, capsize and/or sink, and those on board will be at risk of falling overboard.

Boat safely with Drive a Boat Canada

Boating is an activity that involves serious dangers, but those dangers can be significantly mitigated with the proper safety practices. Learn about required and recommended safety measures by taking the Canadian boating exam. Study online with Drive a Boat Canada to obtain your boating license!