Boat operators struggle with new weight rules

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Since December, companies that operate passenger boats have had to comply with a new Coast Guard rule that raises the assumed average weight of a passenger to 185 pounds, up a whopping 45 pounds from the 140-pound average used since 1960.

As a result, some operators say a reduction in passengers to meet weight capacity limits is taking a toll on revenue. Others have hired marine architects to determine how stability can be increased by adding ballast to boats or filling compartments with flotation foam.

Mark Schiller, vice president of operations for Pittsburgh Water Limo, told The Wall Street Journal he agrees that people are generally heavier today, but the rule doesn’t make sense for all passengers.

"We have Sweet Sixteen parties and you've got a bunch of 16-year-old girls. You're lucky if their average is 100 pounds," he says.

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