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Remember Boating Safety, Speed Laws and No Wake Zones While on the Water


May 12, 2010

Contact: Jody Puckett, Communications Director

Phone: (757) 253-6605




As the weather warms up, County boaters are enjoying the area’s waterways. But with more boats on the water, it’s likely that violations and accidents will increase, especially from excessive speed. Boaters should be aware that State Code limits motorboat speeds and wakes within fifty feet of docks, piers, boathouses, boat ramps, and people in the water.


To report emergencies, violations or accidents, residents should call the Marine Police Dispatch Center toll free at (800) 541-4646. For more information about boating regulations, laws and safety, check these web sites:



From the Virginia Watercraft Owner's Guide: Speed Laws

“No Wake"


1. "No wake" is defined as the slowest possible speed required to maintain steerage and headway.


It shall be unlawful to operate any motorboat greater than no wake speed when within 50 feet or less of docks, piers, boathouses, boat ramps and people in the water. This definition does not prohibit the pulling of a skier with a rope of less than 50 feet.


Slacken Speed


Operators shall reduce speed to avoid endangering persons or property by the effect of the motorboat's wake when approaching or passing vessels under way, lying to, at anchor, or made fast to the shore; or, when approaching or passing piers, docks, or boathouses; or when approaching or passing persons in the water or using water skis or surfboards.


Safe Speed

A safe speed is a speed less than the maximum at which the operator can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and stop within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.


In establishing a safe operating speed, the operator shall take into account: visibility, traffic density, ability to maneuver the vessel (stopping distance and turning ability), background light at night, proximity of navigational hazards, draft of the vessel, limitations of radar equipment, and the state of wind, sea and current.



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