Safety Alert: Vessel overloading and stability

21 December 2017

Risk of capsizing an overloaded vessel of 4.8 m or less, including PWCs.

Issue

Overloading a PWC or a boat up to and including 4.8 metres in length is dangerous because it reduces its stability and seaworthiness.

The greater the weight it is supporting, the lower the vessel sits in the water and the more likely it is that water will come over the side or into the hull. Once there is water ingress, the vessel is likely to become unstable and can be easily swamped or capsized.

Recommendation

When considering how much weight a vessel can support, it is important to take into account the people on board, the engine, fuel, equipment and any supplies.

An Australian Builders Plate (ABP) or manufacturer’s compliance plate, if fitted to the vessel, provides information about:

  • the maximum weight and power rating of the engine
  • how many people can be carried
  • the maximum load that the boat can support.

The calculations used for the ABP are based on each occupant weighing 80 kg with 10 kg of equipment.
Adjustments should be made to account for the actual weight of occupants and other items in or on the vessel.

If the vessel is not fitted with an ABP, more information on stability and safe loading is available at
transportsafety.vic.gov.au/msv/stability.

Photo of a capsized boat