Administrative Code

Creating a Report: Check the sections you'd like to appear in the report, then use the "Create Report" button at the bottom of the page to generate your report. Once the report is generated you'll then have the option to download it as a pdf, print or email the report.

Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation And Natural Resources
Agency 15. Department of Wildlife Resources
Chapter 390. Watercraft: Safe and Reasonable Operation of Vessels

4VAC15-390-130. Standard whistle and horn signals.

A. Whenever vessels are approaching in a meeting, crossing, or overtaking situation, and it appears desirable to the operator of one of the vessels to communicate his intentions to the operator of the other, the following standard whistle or horn signals will be used, and none other:

1. One short blast; meaning: "I am altering my course to the right"; except that in a crossing situation when this signal is initiated by the vessel to the right of the other it means, "I am holding my course and speed."

2. Two short blasts; meaning: "I am altering my course to the left."

3. Three short blasts; meaning: "I am stopping, or backing, by applying power astern."

4. Five or more short blasts in rapid succession; meaning: "DANGER"; or "I do not understand your intentions"; or "I do not concur in the maneuver indicated by your signal."

B. Whenever a motorboat less than 65.6 feet long receives one of the above signals from an approaching vessel, and if the operator understands the signal and concurs in the maneuver, he will answer with a similar signal. Whenever the intention of the approaching vessel is unclear, or if the proposed maneuver appears to involve risk of collision or other danger, the operator of the motorboat receiving the signal will answer with five or more short blasts in rapid succession, whereupon the operators of both vessels will slow, stop, or change course as necessary to avoid collision.

C. Signals in or near an area of restricted visibility or when the operator's vision is obscured by fog or other weather conditions shall be one prolonged blast of intervals of not more than two minutes for motorboats, and one prolonged plus two short blasts of intervals of not more than two minutes by sailboats under sail alone.

D. A vessel of 39.4 feet (12 meters) or more in length shall be provided with a whistle that meets U.S. Coast Guard requirements. A motorboat of less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) shall not be obligated to carry a whistle or bell as required above, but the operator shall have a whistle or other device intended to make audible signals capable of being heard 0.5 mile.

E. The operators of vessels not required to have sound-producing devices on board are not required to give or answer horn to whistle signals, but if they have sound-producing devices on board and elect to give or answer signals, the standard signals prescribed above shall be used, and none other.

Statutory Authority

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

Historical Notes

Derived from VR325-04-3 § 13, eff. July 1, 1973; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2003; Volume 27, Issue 10, eff. January 1, 2011.

Website addresses provided in the Virginia Administrative Code to documents incorporated by reference are for the reader's convenience only, may not necessarily be active or current, and should not be relied upon. To ensure the information incorporated by reference is accurate, the reader is encouraged to use the source document described in the regulation.

As a service to the public, the Virginia Administrative Code is provided online by the Virginia General Assembly. We are unable to answer legal questions or respond to requests for legal advice, including application of law to specific fact. To understand and protect your legal rights, you should consult an attorney.