US Coast Guard Auxiliary continues discussion of boat stability

February 21, 2022

This is your Boating Safety Minute produced by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 12-02. I’m Captain Mark.

To complete our discussion of boat capacity we should discuss load distribution. Every boat has two points of stability. One point, the center of gravity, is located just above the waterline. The second, the center of buoyancy, is just below the water line. 

These points are not fixed, and uneven weight distribution causes them to move. Put all your gear or passengers on the starboard side and the COB moves to starboard, so the boat will list to that side. Put all your gear or passengers on the fly bridge and the COG rises above the cockpit. Both situations can make the boat unstable.

For example:  your capacity plate reads 8 passengers, and you have 5.  Although the math should be in your favor, if all 5 climb up onto the fly bridge the boat may become unstable. That occurrence happened in the Chesapeake a couple of years ago, and the 25-foot vessel capsized.

Another example:  if you allow all the weight to move aft, the boat may take on water over its transom. That happened when several 200 lb. fishermen ran to the stern and attempted to haul in a 200 lb. shark. The boat sank at the stern with one very irated shark – and no this wasn’t a movie – this was real life.

Hence, when you load your boat keep everything toward the center and in the cockpit.

These boating safety minutes are a public service of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. If you want to learn more about our topics, become a better boater, help your Coast Guard, or ask a question please contact Russell Vreeland at 757-442-7029.

I’m Captain Mark and Remember, a life jacket will not save anyone’s life unless you wear it!

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