What Is The Passenger Capacity Of Pontoon Boats?

The summer is almost here, you’ve just purchased a new pontoon boat, and you’re sending invitations to all your friends and family members. But hold on. What is the maximum capacity of your pontoon boat? Safety is the most crucial factor, followed by legality.

Overloading your boat with weight could put lives in grave danger. Additionally, the US Coast Guard will become interested in you.

What Is Passenger Capacity

The maximum number of passengers a vehicle can carry is referred to as its passenger capacity. The majority of pontoon boats have a capacity plate that lists the weight and how many passengers they can accommodate.

Because people cannot be packed into pieces, the passenger capacity is simply the maximum weight the boat can support.

Average Passenger Capacity Of Pontoon Boats

Different sizes of pontoon boats:

  • Small ones are typically 17 to 19 feet long.
  • Twenty to twenty-two feet is the length of a medium-sized pontoon boat.
  • The minimum length of a large-sized pontoon is 23 feet, and it can be up to 28 feet in length.

The design and number of seats on a pontoon boat vary from business to business. Here’s what we see in general:

  • Eight people can easily fit in a small pontoon boat
  • A medium boat can hold up to 13 people,
  • Up to 14 people can fit on large-sized pontoons.

The maximum number of passengers may differ from this standard outline depending on your boat’s accessories.

Why Is Passenger Capacity Important

As you know pontoon boats are highly customizable. Simply removing the seats will allow you to convert yours into a dance floor if necessary.

Alternatively, you might be able to fit eight people, your bulldog, three toddlers (because they are so small), and all of them on your 17-footer’s available seats.

It doesn’t work like that, to be completely honest. It is their weight, not their number, that matters; not the number of people on board. Standard outlines tell you about the number of average weighted persons that can board the boat.

In comparison to a group of teenagers, a group of five toddlers is much lighter. Similar to how you can fit ten five-year-olds on your boat, carrying ten adults will put you over the boat’s weight limit. Overloading your pontoon boat can cause it to swamp or even capsize in the water.


How To Calculate Your Pontoon Boat’s Capacity

You can’t use your boat as a balance scale. I understand that you don’t want to weigh your visitor before they board to put them in a bad light. What if, however, you determined the number of passengers your boat could carry in advance?

Find Out The Boat’s Dimensions

A single pontoon, the hollow aluminum tube that supports the deck of your boat, should be measured. Then calculate the circular tube’s radius.

Also, you have to know the weight of your pontoon boat, which is usually around 2,050 lbs (I’m referring to a 32-foot pontoon with an 11-foot radius.5 inches) and is indicated in the user manual booklet.

Find Out The Area

Calculate the circular area of the pontoon in inches

Area of circle= 3.14 x 11 is the circle’s area.5 ² = 415.26

Tube’s Volume In Inches

Calculate the volume of a pontoon tube in inches

The volume of cylinder = area of circle x height ( length of tube)

A pontoon tube’s volume is 415.26 x 384 = 159459.84

Convert It Into Feet

Calculate the volume of a pontoon tube in feet

1728 cubic inches make up one cubic foot. Therefore

159459.84 / 1728 = 92.28 cubic feet

Find Out Buoyancy

The weight of freshwater is 64 lbs. per cubic foot

Buoyancy = 92.28 x 64 = 5905.92

Get To The Final Figure

To determine weight capacity, subtract the weight of your boat (including any engines and furniture) from the calculated buoyancy.

5905 lbs – 3840 lbs = 2065 lbs

A 32-foot pontoon boat’s weight limit is 2065 pounds or 14 passengers. ( the average weight of each passenger is 150 lbs).

You can always call the manufacturer of your boat and ask about the specifics regarding passenger capacity even though this method will give you an accurate weight capacity measurement if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of math.

What Happens When A Pontoon Boat Is Overloaded

Numerous negative consequences can result from having too many passengers on your pontoon boat. I’ve listed potential outcomes and provided more information about how they might affect your day on the water below.

Capsizing Risks 

As I mentioned earlier, going over your pontoon boat’s passenger limit can have serious repercussions, usually in the form of a capsize. Whilst pontoons very rarely sink and are built to float, capsizing is a risk when there are too many people aboard.

If you’re boating in rough conditions such as choppy water, then these risks are magnified ten-fold. Simply put, the risk isn’t worth it.

Legal Issues

You are obligated by law to abide by the instructions on the capacity plate and you must never overcrowd your pontoon with passengers. Manufacturer tests and governmental regulations led to the information on passenger loads that are printed on the labels.

There could be some differences in the law depending on what state you live in (click here to see state laws), but overall, don’t disobey the capacity plate sticker. It’s there for a good reason, after all.

Insurance Invalidation

But let’s pretend for a second that you do have an accident and it turns out that there were too many passengers on board. You’re going to have a ton of trouble filing an insurance claim, whether it’s for you or against you.

Due to you having more passengers than you had space for on the pontoon, your insurance coverage and policy will be completely invalid. Carrying more passengers than you are allowed to is simply not worth the risk.

Reduced Performance

If there are too many people on board your pontoon, it will perform significantly worse in addition to having negative legal and safety repercussions.

The problem is that tubes and skiers aren’t really designed to be pulled by pontoon boats. Yes, they do a very good job if you have enough horsepower, but the more people aboard, the slower you are going to go.


Don’t pack too many people onto your pontoon boat, please. You, the captain, and the boat’s owner must be aware of how many people can fit on your vessel.

Usually, common sense is all that’s required. It’s unlikely to be safe if it doesn’t appear and feel that way.

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