Match specs on your boat to prevent disaster

HIGH POINT, N.C. — What’s obvious to some is a mystery to others.

A North Carolina angler proved himself in the latter category at Oak Hollow Lake recently, when he attempted to launch a boat that he had upgraded with a 135-horsepower outboard.

What he didn’t know was that his 17-foot, 1975 Mackie tri-hull probably was rated for an engine much smaller.

“On her maiden voyage, she slipped off the trailer, the transom immediately submerged, and she went down like a rock — with the exception of the bubble caught in the bow, which aided greatly in the recovery efforts,” said Bill Frazier, North Carolina B.A.S.S. Nation conservation director.

Frazier was called to the scene because he is a water quality expert for High Point, and Oak Hollow is a water supply reservoir. Also, he’s familiar with old tri-hulls, having fished out of many.

“Most were rated for between 50 and 70 horsepower,” he said. “It certainly was never 135.”

An outboard of that size weighs more than 100 pounds more than a 70 horsepower.

Whether yours is an old tri-hull or a sleek and shiny new bass boat, it carries a loading and capacity plate, according to BoatU.S. It usually is located on the inside transom or next to the helm station.

For boats equipped with outboards, the plate designates maximum horsepower, as well as the maximum number of people and/or pounds of passengers, motor and gear. Exceeding those limits can result in disaster, as the owner of the Mackie tri-hull learned.