Fatter Passengers Mean Change in Boat Rules

Posted Apr 5th 2011 01:00 PM


fatter passengers boat

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Fatter passengers are the cause of a rules change by the U.S. Coast Guard that will impact tour boats, ferries and water taxis.

The Coast Guard is adjusting occupancy regulations to reflect the fact Americans weigh more than they did in the in the 1960s, when earlier rules were set. The standard weight per passenger for American-flagged boats will be calculated at 185 pounds rather than 160 pounds, beginning Dec. 1.

"Over the decades people have gotten bigger and they weigh more according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), so the Coast Guard regulations were adjusted to reflect that," Coast Guard spokeswoman Lisa Novak tells AOL Travel News.

With passengers tipping the scale, the new rule will mean boats have to carry fewer people.

The concern is stability of a vessel, and what might happen if heavy passengers all moved to one side, a Coast Guard official tells the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

It was unclear whether in addition to smaller passenger boats the rules change also applies to Norwegian Cruise Line's American-flagged cruise ship Pride of America, which cruises in Hawaii – AOL has a request out to NCL for comment.

The rules change does not apply to recreational boaters. It also does not apply to cruise ship lifeboats, which are covered under a separate set of regulations, Novak says.

Tour boat operators say the change will impact business.

"If you're licensed for 400 people ... with the new rating you may only carry 370," Haley Sofge, a manager with Biscayne Lady Charters, which operates out of West Palm Beach and Miami, tells the Sun-Sentinel.

Another Florida tour boat owner says to make up for fewer passengers operators may have to charge guests more.

In calculating the new weight regulations the Coast Guard went with averages for men and women from the CDC's National Center of Health Statistics, Novak says.

According to the CDC, for people over age 20, the average weight for men is 194.7 pounds and for women 164.7 pounds.

Similar weight changes have been considered for city transit buses. In response to the increasing girth of Americans, the Federal Transit Authority (FTA) last month proposed raising the assumed average weight per bus passenger from 150 pounds to 175 pounds, a move that could mean fewer seats on buses across the country.

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kate welsh

When it compromises the safety then necessary actions should be taken. Its not by being thin or fat. Just think of the common good. stretch marks removal cream

April 06 2011 at 12:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A few years ago I was with a friend in Florida and we were taking an air-boat to see the everglades. The boat sat six people. To couples came up and became irate, really beyond irate, when the boat owner told them he could no take them. Both women were at least 250lbs and both men were well over 300lbs. I could see the waist measurement on one of the mens jeans and it was 52. It should have been obvious to these people that such a small boat simply could not take them, yet they acted like the boat owner was denying them service for no reason. The 4 of them weighed at least as much as 10 people, and they could not understand why a boat for 6 could not take them because they were only 4 people. I do feel sorry for such people but really, they must use their brains and realize that their extreme size does make them ineligible for some activities.

April 06 2011 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL, LAND OF THE FREE. What a joke! No one is free from cruel criticism. We have become the land of gossip and intolerance, and it is obvious by the increase in students being bullied in school or adults being subject to insensitive disrespectful remarks. It used to be the French that were traditionally considered abrupt with the world, but we are worse, we do it to our own.

April 06 2011 at 8:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If the Airlines are going to charge prople for their checked baggage, are they going to charge all the fat asses extra for their additional weight which drives up the excess fuel consumption during the flight? A 50-pound suitcase doesn't use-up nearly the fuel as a 300-pond passenger. It's time to put a scale at the check-in cointer and have people pay extra for their "extra load."

April 06 2011 at 6:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is pretty sad. I'm 5'9" and not even 160 pounds. Have fun killing yourselves.

April 06 2011 at 4:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

to make up for fewer passengers operators may have to charge guests more.

this is an easy one ..make fat people weigh in and charge them by the pound ....
why should i pay more ..at 5'7" and a 160 lbs. i'm surly not the cause of this ...

April 06 2011 at 4:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

porkers should be forced off planes and boats and put on box cars with the cattle. gay is normal?? don't think so. but you are right...the pedofiles and sexual predators will be the next sick group demanding their rights.

April 06 2011 at 4:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am one of these "obese" persons you are all talking about, and the rude comments dont help those of us who are trying to loose weight. Not all weight gain is just because we sit around and eat all day! Those of you who judge, take a look in the mirror, your not perfect either. Why sit there and judge? If you dont like what you see, don't look. The comments are not needed. Those that are heavy ARE aware that they are heavy. We are not stupid or blind. I have to look at myself everyday, and I find it sad that people out there judge me and others like me just on weight. Thats not all there is to me. So I say think before you speak.

April 06 2011 at 4:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to April's comment

I'm not overweight but I have a friend who is and I KNOW how hard he tries to lose weight and that for some people it just isn't as easy as everyone thinks. But, he simply does not fit into a regular seat, yet demands he be treated as though there is nothing different about him. I stopped going places with him because he will just plop down in between two people and just be all over them and then act as though he is being wronged when they complain.

April 06 2011 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


April 06 2011 at 3:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This change is irrelevant and without merit. There is no possibility of aan average person being the selection to ride a boat. Everybody has a different height, bone structure and size. A Woman who is 6' 3" with a BMI of 25 is within her weight range and it is about 190. A woman who is 4' 6" and a BLMI of 25 would probnably be in the range os 100 lbs. A man 6' 8" and a BMI of 25 and 225 lbswould be within his weight range. A man of 4' 10" and a BMI of 35 could be 190. The arbitrary figures of an average person is just not possible to apply to all persons of all ages and of all heights. The changes should be appealed as not feasible nor realistic nor reasonable, nor actual. If they want to regulate the boat carrying weight, they should obtain and verify the actual weights of all passengers before boarding. When they have reached the limit, the number of passengers is cut off.

April 06 2011 at 2:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply