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Washington DC's Premier Online Boating Network

Boat Busted!

What to NOT do when boating

It’s a nice day and everyone is having a great time. Maybe you’re running your Boat through and inlet or skimming across the bay or big lake, when suddenly out of nowhere, you hear the wail of a siren. You twist your head around and sure enough, there’s a Boat with a flashing light bearing down on you, helmed with a guy in a uniform and he’s not smiling.

Looking for a calm spot to tie up, you throttle back and grab some fenders. As the Water Cops pull up alongside your Boat, all you can think is, “What did I do wrong?”

The truth is that maybe you haven’t done anything wrong that you’re aware of. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to escape this encounter with a tip of the cap and a friendly wave goodbye.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, here are the top 10 most common offenses that Powerboaters are likely to get busted for, listed from the most common to the least, many of which you might be violating but not know it:

  1. Missing personal flotation devices. Yeah, yeah maybe they’re clumsy and uncomfortable and look totally uncool, but there’s supposed to be at least one PFD for each person on your Boat. It’s the law and even more important, someday it could save your life as well as those of your crew. Don’t leave the dock without them!
  2. State and Federal documents missing or improper markings. What? No owner’s registration?! Come on, this is number 2?!
  3.  Drunken Boating. Perhaps the most surprising fact about this violation is that it ranks only third. Want some advice? When you’re at the helm of a Boat, don’t drink a single drop. After all, a boat is a heavy and potentially dangerous piece of equipment, which means the operator should be in possession of all of his faculties all of the time.
  4. Missing or out-of-date visual distress siginal. A lot of Boaters are guilty of this, but here’s a tip: Don’t get rid of those old flares. They probably still work and someday might come in handy, so keep them onboard. There’s no law against it. Just wrap the old flares in a plastic bag, keeping them separate from the new ones.
  5. Fire extinguisher violation. If you’re found not to have the proper fire extinguisher onboard, guess what: You deserve a ticket.

  6. Inoperable or missing sound-producing device. To retaliate by saying to the Water Cop, “go honk yourself” is probably not a good idea. Also cranking your onboard radio wouldn’t work either.
  7. Inoperable or missing navigation lights. Here’s a thought: Check them out before you leave the dock. Simple way to avoid getting busted.
  8. Placard violation. Huh? What? You can get a citation for not having on your Boat noting the rules for proper oil or garbarge disposal. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!
  9. Negligent operation. In other words, the Water Cops are claiming that in their judgment you weren’t navigating in a prudent manner. Maybe you were running to fast through a no-wake zone or maybe you were freaking out the local manatee population! Obey the speed zones.
  10. No backfire flame control device in compartment space. This shouldn’t be much of a concern unless you’re operating a modified engine. But backyard mechanics and high-performance guys should take note.
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Getting Ready For The Boating Season

Do You Have Your Boating Safety Certificate?

In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law to establish a boating safety education compliance requirement. This requirement will be phased in over the next several years and by 2016, all operators of PWCs (Personal Watercraft such as jet skis, Sea Doos, Wave Runners) and operators of Motorboats with a 10 hp or greater motor, will be required to have a boating safety education course completion card on board when operating a PWC or Motorboat.

As of July 1, 2010, all PWC operators 35 years old and younger must complete a boating safety course. This is the next phase-in of the Education Compliance Requirement for all Virginia boaters. Beginning July 1, 2011, all PWC operators 50 and younger must take a boating safety course and Boat operators ages 20 and younger need to take a boating safety course. PWC Age Restriction: No person under the age of 14 may operate a PWC. Those operators 14 and 15 MUST show proof of completing an approved and accepted boating safety course either in a classroom or online. The challenge exam or other provisions of the Education Compliance Requirement do not meet the requirements of the age restriction law.

A Personal Watercraft or PWC, more commonly known as a Sea-Doo® (Bombardier Recreational Products), Waverunner® (Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA), and JET SKI® (Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA), is defined as a motorboat less than 16 feet in length that are powered by jet pumps, not propellers, where the persons stand, kneel, or sit on, rather than inside the boat. Classroom and Internet courses that are NASBLA approved and accepted by VDGIF to meet these requirements are listed at the links below. If you are an experienced boater, you may choose to take an equivalency/challenge exam rather than take a boating safety course. Information about the equivalency/challenge exam can be found in the link below.

Boating Safety Education Compliance Requirement »

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) »

Steps to Meeting the Requirement »

DGIF Boating Coordinators »

Lifetime Virginia Boating Safety Education Card »

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Cherry Blossom Boat Rides

NOVA Deal:$40 for a Cherry Blossom Boat Tour on the Motor Yacht Pelican in National Harbor ($80 Value).

River cruises are a luxurious way to relax and see the sights, unlike boarding dolphins equipped with saddles, which usually results in whiplash and water-filled lungs. Cruise the blue in comfort with today’s Groupon: for $40, you get a ticket to the Cherry Blossom Boat Tour from Fort Washington Potomac River Tours (an $80 value). The Cherry Blossom Boat Tour begins at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Choose from the 18 available dates listed in the sidebar, which run from March 28?April 10.

Cherry Blossom Boat Tour

Fort Washington Potomac River Tours takes to the waterways of the DC-area to provide passengers with an elegant and intimate experience aboard a luxury yacht. Board the custom-built 64-foot Pelican and cruise the currents of the Potomac River in style, taking in up-close views of pastel blooms in the throes of spring. Lounge on the upper deck, snap photos from the stern platform or outside rail, or retreat inside to tune in to live broadcasts from George Washington’s gardener on the satellite TV. Passengers are feted with a Blossom Box chock full of decadent pastries from confectioner CMK Pastries, as well as discount coupons to National Harbor’s McCormick & Shmick’s, McLoone’s, Bobby McKeys, Cadillac Ranch, and the Public House. Hop aboard with Fort Washington Potomac River Tours and celebrate the arrival of spring without resorting to making pollen angels in freshly verdant fields.

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