In this season of expanding waistlines, even the Coast Guard has been forced to monitor midsections: specifically, the drafts of passenger vessels burdened with transporting an increasingly heavy population.
The Coast Guard in December formally put into effect rules requiring certain passenger vessels to comply with its new Assumed Average Weight per Person. That new weight, 185 pounds, is a full 25 pounds more than the previous average, 160, a figure put in place about half a century ago — after French fries were invented but before billions and billions had been served.
“Are people bigger now?” said Mark Cedergreen, who began running a charter sport fishing boat out of Westport, Wash., in the 1970s, when the salmon population was healthier and people apparently were, too. “Yes.”
And so vessel operators across the country have faced a reckoning: shed weight, and potentially revenue, by reducing the number of passengers they carry, or find a way to keep squeezing people on without falling out of compliance with the Coast Guard.