In the wake of the July 4 tragedy in Oyster Bay in which three Suffolk County children were trapped and killed in a capsized, overloaded watercraft, local marina officials stressed the importance of boat safety.
Overloading boats could be a deadly decision, said Martin Munch, president of the Bayside Marina.
“You want to have ample room to move around in case of an emergency,” he said, adding that occupancy rules vary for each boat, depending on the type and style of the craft.
According to New York state boating requirements, a capacity plate — usually located in plain sight near the operator’s station — on board vessels less than 21 feet long indicates how much weight the boat can safely carry, and should never be exceeded.
Boaters under 12 years old on a vessel less than 65 feet are also required to wear life vests, as well as anyone on a vessel less than 21 feet between November 1 and May 1, according to the United States Coast Guard. Violations can lead to a fine of up to $100.
Munch recalled a July 2002 accident in Little Neck Bay that claimed two lives — John Kondogianis, 36, of Elmont, L.I., and George Lawrence, 17, of Little Neck — when they were both thrown overboard and killed by a colliding boat in the waters off the Bayside Marina. Marina staff members often make safety recommendations to private boaters, Munch said, but ultimately enforcement falls under the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the United States Coast Guard on all federally controlled waters.