Vicki asks "How Many People Can Fit in a Boat?"

That's a very good question, Vicki, because overloading a small boat is a very dangerous thing to do. Luckily, there are some federal regulations helping to protect you.

Boat builders must comply with Federal law by putting a Capacity Plate in sight of the helm (steering area) on motorized boats less than 20 feet in length. This plate displays three important items: the maximum weight of persons on board in pounds, the maximum carrying weight of the vessel in pounds and the maximum horsepower recommended for the boat.

If you own a boat that was built prior to the Federal law mandating capacity plates, or have a homemade boat, the following formulas can be used to determine safe loading capacity.

 Formulas for Safe Loading Horsepower Capacity for small, flat-bottom boats: Multiply boat length (ft) times transom width (ft) Person Capacity: Average weight per person is 150 lbs. If answer is: 35 or less 36-39 40-42 43-45 46-52 Maximum HP is: 3 5 7.5 10 15 (Boat length X Boat width) 15 = Number of people Note: for flat bottom, hard chine boats, with an answer of 52 or less, reduce one increment (e.g. 5 to 3) Boat length and width are measured in feet. Round fractions down to next lower number.

Remember that you need to keep everything in the boat balanced - this includes people, pets, coolers, etc.. Even if your boat has the capacilty to carry a few people and a few coolers filled with soda, you don't want everyone sitting together on one side. You should also secure your gear, so it doesn't all slide to one side if a boat passing you creates a wake or you become unbalanced for some reason.

Also, in a small boat, it is best to remain low and toward the center. See How Do Boats Float? for more information.

Thanks for the question, Vicki!