I suppose when ships were small and low powered, it made sense to divide the world into broad areas of similar weather and fix the maximum allowed freeboard for all ships in each area according to a standard formula. I am not sure that it made much difference to either the ship or the seaman if his ship’s draft was a few centimeters more or less in the practical operation of the ship. Whilst I regularly loaded ships in a tropical zone for a summer zone port discharge, I never felt any sense of concern as I crossed the latitude between the zones. It was just a mandatory allowance and one we routinely made as being a necessity without giving much though for its benefit or rationale.

As the average sizes of ships are gradually creeping up, this allowance for the Load Line Zones appears to be losing its relevance. I don’t think any seaman can detect any difference in the handling of his ship in a seaway if his ship’s draft is that little bit more or less. I don’t believe any seaman senses a feeling of relief or concern on changing load line zone or handles his ship any differently. He just accepts the reality of the law and sails on.

Full article, ELNAVI, November 2011, Issue 454, Page. 70

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