It used to be that life raft capacity was figured on 165 pounds per occupant. The new number is 185 pounds. All approved life rafts must now use this figure but I have yet to see any non-approved rafts designed for recreational use make this switch. This is something to consider if you are looking to purchase a life raft. Rather than asking how many individuals a raft is rated for, find out what the rated load is in pounds (or kilograms if you deal better in the metric system) and make your decision based on that. It is always better to have more raft than you need!
This change in “average weight” affects more than just life rafts. Vessel capacity calculations use this number and the 20 pound increase can have cause some dramatic changes in carrying capacity. The American Spirit went from being able to carry 304 people down to 250.
Past president of the United States Marine Safety Association and retired sailor
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