VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As Memorial Day weekend approaches, the Virginia Beach Police Department Marine Patrol wants to be sure you’re safe.
Recreational boaters and jet skiers should check the mechanical and electrical conditions of your vessel in order to ensure that your trip out on the water is a safe one. A missed mechanical or electrical issue could result in a disabled vessel, an expensive call to a boat towing company, or worse: a call for an emergency response from authorities.
In the state of Virginia, boaters are required to have the following items on board their vessel at all times:
- At least one life preserver, correctly sized for each person on board
- At least one Type IV Throwable Personal Floatation Device (PFD)
- On power vessels, operable fire extinguishing equipment
- Visual distress signals on all vessels on the Chesapeake Bay or Atlantic Ocean, with the exception of vessels less than 16 feet. If a 16 feet vessel is out on the water from sunset to sunrise, signals are required.
- Operational navigation lights from sunset to sunrise.
- On vessels 39 feet and over, audible signaling devices.
Boaters and jet skiers should keep in mind that they are not to operate their vessel within 100 yards of the sand beaches of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean from May 1 through October 15 between 10 a.m. and sunset. The only exception to this rule is if you’re launching or landing where permitted, or within 25 yards of a boat displaying a dive flag. Boaters are also not allowed to anchor or moor in a marked channel, or moor to any channel marker, buoy, or bridge.
Boaters should also be aware that there are several “no wake” zones in Virginia Beach waters, which are marked by signs or buoys.
“No wake” speed is defined as the slowest speed necessary for safe navigation to maintain steerage and headway. Going any faster than necessary is a violation.
Effective July 1 of this year, all motorboat and jet ski operators, regardless of age, must have completed their Boater Safety Education Course (Virginia State Code § 29.1-735.2).
Finally, boaters, jet skiers and other operators of motorized watercraft are reminded that the laws for operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are similar to those for operating a motor vehicle on highways. You should always designate a driver — even on the water.