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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 19:18 GMT
Ferry firms face a weighty issue
Ferry. Picture courtesy of FreeFoto.com
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is testing all ferries
Ferries in Cornwall have been putting their customers on the scales amid official concerns about the rise in podgy passengers.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has asked all ferry firms to carry out stability checks.

It is feared that Britain's growing weight problem may be causing them too much strain.

Sixty volunteers, seduced by the offer of a free pasty and a pint, were at the Prince of Wales Pier in Falmouth.

National trends suggest the average person now boarding a ferry weighs 12lb (5.44kg) more than they did in the 1950s, so the MAIB wanted to check if ferries were now exceeding their weight limits.

No risk

Once weighed, passengers were labelled with a figure in kilograms on their front and the total compared with the maximum passenger payload of each ferry.

Individuals' weight has risen to an average of 11st 8lb (73.48kg) and the combined weight increase on a passenger ferry of 100 customers could cause stability problems, says the MAIB.

Garrick Royle, operations manager for Cornwall Ferries Limited, said: "We have done it in the past using bags of water, but it is quite a tedious way of doing it, and quite cumbersome because you have to move the bags around the boat."

The MCA has already surveyed ferries in the Isles of Scilly and most of those in Fowey and is now in Falmouth, with all Britain's ferries due to be tested by next spring.

The five vessels that were tested on Tuesday did pass, and were found to pose no risk and another four will be tested on Wednesday.




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