Capacity-limit legislation goes to Senate committee

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A bill introduced last week by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that would require the posting of capacity limits on boats over 20 feet was recently referred to the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

In July, Schumer urged the Coast Guard to voluntarily adopt regulations after three children died when a 34-foot Silverton carrying 27 passengers capsized in Cove Neck after an Independence Day fireworks show.

Although an investigation examining the reasons for the capsizing is still under way, there have been “numerous questions raised about overall capacity capabilities for such vessels,” a statement from Schumer’s office said.

“This tragedy shocked New Yorkers and Americans across the country, and we vowed to do everything we could to prevent it from happening again,” Schumer said in a statement last week.

“Because the U.S. Coast Guard refuses to step up to the plate and require boats to post capacity limits, today I’m introducing legislation requiring them to do so. The Boat Capacity Standards Act of 2012 will ensure that all boaters, no matter the size of their vessel, are aware of how many people should be on board and will help honor the memory of the children who died on that terrible day.”

Click here to read the proposed legislation.


8 comments on “Capacity-limit legislation goes to Senate committee

  1. Jc

    I find it amazing how the stupidity of an individual can lead to a payday for lawyers, the possible loss of another US manufacturer. This case should have been thrown out of court. The operator should have been arrested for negligence and held responsible for the deaths. And that should have been the end of it.
    This is not weather related.
    This is not a act of god.
    This is a blatent lack of common sense by the operator that caused deaths. Where is the arrest?

  2. Capchris

    Nice work, Sen. Schumer. I was captaining a charter boat that night across the sound in Darien, CT, and saw plenty of other overloaded boats as well.

    This is legislation that’s LONG over due!

  3. Capt. Chris

    This tragedy shocked New Yorkers and Americans across the country, and we vowed to do everything we could to prevent it from happening again,” Schumer said in a statement last week.

    This is everything he can do?????????? Post a placard nobody reads! Really?

  4. T Smith

    The plate will have to be pretty large and complex as it will have to say how many people and how much weight can be in each part of the boat. Think of all the combinations on a boat with a bridge and multiple cabins down below. Lets see, I have 3 on the bridge, 4 in the saloon, 2 on the aft deck . . . no wait, now I have 4 on the bridge, 2 in the saloon . . .

    Maybe we need to put draft marks on the bow and stern and provide stability curves like on a commercial boat. Now commercial fishing boats roll over fairly often with professional captains at the helm, so that isn’t an answer either. As a boat designer, I see this as potentially a large pain in the rear with little to no safety gains in the end. You can’t legislate common sense. There is no such thing as idiot proof, idiots are ingenious!

  5. Doug Reimel

    Amazing, one can introduce legislation for capacity and yet cannot pass a budget in 3 1/2 years. Maybe common sense should start in the Senate First!

  6. Capta

    OK, Shumer is over the top on this one. As a licensed mariner I think this Capacity Plate llaw is stupid. Who is going to enforce it? I agree with Doug. The Congress can’t pass a budget in 3.5 years but they can pass this useless law in 6 months?!

    If the Congress really wants to make a difference, require recreational boaters to get a real license, similar to what recreational pilots need to acquire. Make it a water-downed version of the OUPV license. 1) Rules of the Road; 2) Plottin; and 3) Basic concepts of seamanship including Stability.

  7. Bruce

    Is there also a bill to increase funding and personnel for the Coast Guard? It takes USCG several man days for the process in commercial vessels such as ferries. Once you have more than 1 deck level it gets complicated, and most recreational craft don’t have watertight subdivisions, so would have a hard time passing existing 46 CFR stability criteria. A lot easier for new vessels with 3-d hull lines, very costly for old boats, boats out of production, or with builders out of business. Will owners of old boats pay for haulouts and several thousands of dollars of calculations?

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