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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation and Natural Resources
Agency 15. Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Chapter 370. Watercraft: in General
8/14/2020

4VAC15-370-50. Regulatory Markers and Aids to Navigation.

A. Under the provisions of Chapter 7 of Title 29.1 of the Code of Virginia a system of regulatory markers and a lateral buoyage marking system of aids to navigation are hereby adopted on all public waters of the Commonwealth not marked by an agency of the United States. Regulatory markers will be white with international orange bands. A vertical open-faced diamond shape with a white center shall denote danger. A vertical open-faced diamond shape with an inside cross shall denote a prohibition of all vessels. A circular shape with a white center shall denote a control or restriction. A rectangular shape shall denote information other than a danger, control or restriction. No regulatory marker, aid to navigation or other waterway marker affecting the safety, health or well-being of a boat operator, excepting those placed by an agency of the United States or a political subdivision of this Commonwealth as authorized in § 29.1-744 D of the Code of Virginia, shall be placed in, on or near the water unless authorized by the department.

B. When buoys are used as regulatory markers, they shall be white with horizontal bands of international orange, having a minimum width of two inches, placed completely around the buoy circumference. One band shall be at the top of the buoy, with a second band placed just above the waterline so that both bands are clearly visible to approaching watercraft. The area of the buoy body visible between the two bands shall be white and not less than 12 inches in height. No buoy shall be less than 24 inches in overall height from the waterline.

C. Where a regulatory marker consists of a sign displayed from a marine structure, post or piling, the sign shall be white, with an international orange border having a minimum width of three inches. The geometric shape associated with the meaning of the marker shall be centered on the signboard.

D. The size of the display area shall be as required by circumstances, except that no display area shall be smaller than one foot in height. The outside width of the diamond, the inner diameter of the circle, and the average of the inside and outside widths of a square shall be two-thirds of the display area. The side of the diamond shall slope at a 35° angle from the vertical on the plane surface. Approximate adjustments for curvature may be made when applied to a cylindrical surface.

E. Explanatory words may be added outside the diamond with a center cross, the open diamond and the no wake circle on fixed markers only, and shall be added to the inside of the circle, square and rectangle. The letters of such words shall be black, in block characters of good proportion, spaced in a manner that will provide maximum legibility, and of a size that will provide the necessary degree of visibility. Applicable words include, but are not limited to:

1. Open faced diamond: rock, snag, cable, dam, dredge, shoal, reef, wreck.

2. Diamond with cross: dam, swim area, rapids, no boats.

3. Circle: no skiing, no wake, no anchoring, no fishing, no scuba, no boats, ski only, fishing only, for wording inside the circle; and entering no wake zone, leaving no wake zone, for wording outside the circle.

4. Square or rectangle: information other than a danger, control or restriction, which may contribute to health, safety, or well-being of boaters, such as place names, arrows indicating availability of gas, oil, groceries, marine repairs, limits of controlled areas, or approaching controlled area.

F. Waterway markers shall be made of materials that will retain the characteristics essential to their basic significance, such as color, shape, legibility and position, despite weather or other exposures.

G. Regulatory markers shall be placed where they are reasonably visible from boats approaching the marker and the visibility of the marker shall be maintained.

H. Written approval of the department must be obtained before relocation of any marker.

I. The person responsible for the marker shall immediately notify the department when any approved marker is removed or destroyed. Such marker shall be replaced without unnecessary delay.

J. After notification to the person responsible for the marker, the department may cancel for reasonable cause any marker authorization. Such marker shall be removed by the person responsible for the marker without unnecessary delay. Should the marker not be removed within a reasonable amount of time, the department may remove the marker or have it removed at the expense of the person responsible for the marker.

K. The political subdivision or agency making application shall certify that the markers to be installed conform to the above provisions.

L. It shall be unlawful to enter, use, or occupy public waters for a purpose contrary to the use indicated on markers authorized by the department, or placed by an agency of the Unites States or a political subdivision of this Commonwealth.

M. It shall be unlawful to moor or attach a vessel to a marker other than an approved mooring buoy, or move, remove, displace, tamper with, damage or destroy a marker authorized by the department, placed by an agency of the United States or placed by a political subdivision of this Commonwealth.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501, 29.1-502, and 29.1-701 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR325-04-1 § 5, eff. August 26, 1993; amended, Volume 19, Issue 05, eff. January 1, 2003; Volume 27, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2011.

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