Boating laws you should know

Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, P.L.L.C.
2 mins READ
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Most boating accidents are the result of a collision, either between two vessels, or between a vessel and a fixed or submerged object. Before you embark on your next boating adventure on Virginia’s waterways, read up on this state’s navigational rules to reduce the likelihood of a boating accident this summer.


Just like motorists are required to follow the rules of the road, boat operators should respect the “rules of the waterway.” In general, all boaters should remember the three basic rules of navigation:

  • Practice good seamanship. Take all necessary action to avoid collisions, including staying sober while operating a boat and following navigational rules.
  • Keep a proper lookout. Every boat operator should keep a proper lookout using both sight and hearing at all times.
  • Maintain a safe speed. Many boating accidents occur when one party is traveling too fast for conditions.

In addition to the three basic rules of navigation, is it boaters’ responsibility to know and abide by Virginia’s “rules of the waterway.” Refresh your memory on what to do in different navigational situations by reviewing the safety guidelines below.


When two vessels are meeting head-on, each shall alter its course to starboard so that each shall pass on the port side of the other.


When two vessels are crossing, the vessel which has the other on its starboard side shall give way and avoid crossing in front of the other vessel.


Any vessel overtaking another shall give-way and keep out of the way of the other vessel being overtaken. The vessel overtaking another shall also notify an intent to pass by making an appropriate sound signal. The vessel being overtaken should maintain its original course and speed.


Following your state’s navigational rules will reduce the probability of a boating accident. However, even if you follow all safety rules and guidelines, it is likely that other boaters will not. If you have been injured in a boating accident caused by a negligent boater, we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.

Contact Huffman & Huffman Brothers-in-Law, P.L.L.C. at (757) 599-6050 to learn how we can assist you.

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