Boating Basics for a Virginia Beach Vacation

You know you’re there when you see the magnificent statue of Neptune. He gazes inland from his namesake park greeting visitors upon their arrival to this beautiful stretch of Atlantic surf. Virginia Beach is a favorite vacation destination for families and one of the best locations on the eastern seaboard for watercraft excursions. Make sure your adventure is safe by understanding a few boating basics.

2 boats passing

Before You Head Out

Whether you’re launching your own boat or enjoying a rental, make sure that your craft is shipshape. Check the battery connections, oil level and fuel tank. It only takes a few minutes, and it can save you from being stranded for hours in the open water. Look over the boat’s hull and propellers, and make sure everything is in working condition. It’s a good idea to get familiar with the layout of a new craft before you launch, so spend a little time with the control systems. Once you’ve completed your inspection, it’s time for all aboard. Only take along the things you’ll really need. Your trip will be safer if you don’t overload. Your most important rule is the easiest one to follow: Everybody wears a life jacket, and no exceptions are allowed.

Keep Your Boating Safe

Enjoying the water is so much fun, and it’s easy to think there’s no harm in having a few beers. The statistics tell a different story. According to the Coast Guard, more than 5,000 boating accidents every year are the direct result of DUI. It’s illegal to drink and drive in every state, and those same rules apply to the water. Virginia legal advisers like the Wilson Law Firm can inform you of Virginia-specific DUI practices, such as the use of the new Intoximeter ECIR II machine. A buddy system and designated driver are great strategies on land, but neither one helps if someone falls overboard. Cruising the ocean is exciting, and it’s so much safer when you enjoy it responsibly. If you’re inviting guests along for the ride, let them know the rules: no drinking at sea. They’ll appreciate knowing that the trip will be safe for everybody aboard.

Start of PHRF race 1 on September 12

Enjoy the Open Water

Navigating a boat through the waters off Virginia Beach is exhilarating, but don’t let that sense of freedom get the best of you. Always cruise at a safe speed, and watch out for smaller craft. Slow down if you notice submerged objects; you can’t really gauge their size or depth. Steer clear of heavily weeded areas because they can tangle your propellers and cause serious damage. Show other boaters the same courtesy that you extend to fellow drivers on the road. Keep an eye on the weather too. The reports may have cleared you for a beautiful day, but Atlantic storms can blow in quickly. Don’t travel too far from shore, and always be aware of your fuel level. If the tank’s half empty, it’s past time to head back in.

From the historic Military Aviation Museum to the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia Beach is full of adventure and fun. The open sea is everybody’s favorite playground, so sail it safely. Whether you’re boating for the thrill of sports fishing or just enjoying the beautiful scenery, you’ll be making some of your best vacation memories.

About the author

Savannah Bobo is a technical/freelance writer and blogger from the South who spent many childhood summers boating. It is vital to remember that boating safety is as important as vehicular safety, even though it’s a recreational activity. The Wilson Law Firm in Fairfax County can offer legal advice and education on Virginia drunk driving laws.