How Many People Can You Fit on a Pontoon Boat Safely & Legally?

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The maximum number of people that could be accommodated on a pontoon boat depends on two main things- firstly, on the size of the boat and secondly, on the water body on which the boat will be sailed off. For a 17 to 19 foot boat, you can easily take a group of 8 people on smaller and calmer water bodies, including yourself. On the other side, a 20 to 22-foot boat is best for water bodies with fewer heavy waves, such as lakes and rivers. On those boats, it is preferred to take a maximum of 13 passengers. And the large boats of 23 to 28-foot size, are good to accommodate and entertain 15 persons at a time on it.

How come we do get to know about the capacity of a pontoon boat?

Every pontoon boat comes with a capacity sticker adhering to anywhere on the board. Take a look at it, and you will get to know about your boat’s maximum loading capacity not in person but in weight too. It will clearly mention the maximum number of persons and the maximum amount of weight a boat can carry at once. And you will certainly abide by that because that is the legal permission granted by the coastal officers.

How do you calculate the boat’s maximum loading capacity?

If the capacity plate is missing on your boat, you can calculate its maximum capacity yourself by applying simple formulas.

First, find out the dimension of your boat. Then calculate the circular area of the pontoon. In step 3, find out the volume of the pontoon tube and convert it into feet. Step 4 is the most crucial for the whole calculation because you have to calculate the Buoyancy of the water body in that step. And the last and final step is to calculate the capacity. In this step, the weight of your boat is subtracted from the calculated Buoyancy to get the actual weight capacity. This is how you can find out your boat’s capacity, but it is always preferable and safer to reach out to the boat manufacturing company through phone calls or emails to get the exact value from them. The boat carpets, fuel tanks, outboard motors, etc., add extra weight to the boat.

What consequences do you have to face if you overload your boat?

The first and most important thing about overloading your boat is that you will simply put your life in danger and others.

Secondly, you will catch the attention of the US Coast Guard. And it will lead you to get fined for breaking the law and crossing the legal limits of the maximum number of passengers on board. There will also be a probability of getting a jail sentence for worst cases, like if someone gets injured and leading to death.

Thirdly, your boat’s insurance will also get canceled if it is found that it causes an accident due to exceeding the maximum load on it.

Moreover, with the legal and safety issues, boarding a large number of passengers at a time will also lead to slowing down the performance of your boat. Because carrying minimum weights always helps at faster speeds. So, for the sake of your boat’s longevity and better performance, do not overload it at any cost. Also, keep the boat well-equipped with sailing life jackets.

How can you manage the weight on your boat?

If you already have the maximum number of people on the board, you can even do the weights throughout the deck to keep it safe as much as possible. Ensure that every place of the deck is evenly loaded with weights without clustering at any particular point. The deck chairs, deck pads, etc., will add extra load to the boat. But, it is always suggested not to load the deck with the maximum permissible weights for the long run.

So, if you own a boat yourself and want to host a party on a hot summer day, then always try to keep the list of invitees short as much as possible. Never think of exceeding the maximum capacity nor loading it with its maximum limit. Because this is always the captain and the boat owner who will be responsible for any inconvenience that happens to it, so have fun, but not keeping your common sense aside.