The Coast Guard requires all single-hulled boats of less than 20 feet in length to have a capacity plate, installed where visible from the operator’s station. Since most boats in the U. S. are less than 20 feet in length, more than 50% of boaters need to know what it says and why. The capacity plate tells you the maximum number of people or carrying weight in pounds, and the maximum horsepower recommended for the boat. Overloading your boat, either in weight or in power, can be fatal.

Do not exceed the maximum capacity as shown on the boat’s capacity plate. If there is no such label or plate on your boat, use the formula “number of people= (length of boat)times (width of boat)divided by 15”.
When you’re loading your small boat at the dock, have someone stand in the center part of the boat while you hand things into the boat to them. Don’t step or jump into a small boat loaded down with the ice chest, soda, and snacks.

Try and balance your load fore and aft, as well as side to side. Your boat will perform better, you’ll maneuver easier, and you’ll generally be much more stable on the water.