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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation And Natural Resources
Agency 15. Department of Wildlife Resources
Chapter 420. Watercraft: Navigation Lights and Shapes
12/3/2022

4VAC15-420-20. Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, except where the context otherwise requires, the following words and terms mean:

"All-round light" means a light showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 360°.

"Flashing light" means a light flashing at regular intervals at a frequency of 120 flashes or more per minute.

"Inland waters" means the navigable waters of the Commonwealth shoreward of the navigational demarcation lines established by the U.S. Coast Guard dividing the high seas from harbors, rivers, and other inland waters of the United States.

"Length" and "breadth" of a vessel mean its length overall and greatest breadth.

"Masthead light" means a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225° and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5° abaft the beam on either side of the vessel, except that on a vessel of less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) in length, the masthead light shall be placed as nearly as practicable to the fore and aft centerline of the vessel.

"Power-driven vessel" means a motorboat or any vessel propelled by machinery.

"Restricted visibility" means any condition in which visibility is restricted by fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rainstorms, sandstorms, or any other similar causes.

"Sailing vessel" means any vessel under sail provided that propelling machinery, if fitted, is not being used.

"Seaplane" includes any aircraft designed to maneuver on the water.

"Secretary" means the secretary of the department in which the U. S. Coast Guard is operating.

"Sidelights" mean a green light on the starboard (right) side and a red light on the port (left) side, each showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 112.5° and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5° abaft the beam on its respective side. On a vessel of less than 65.6 feet (20 meters) in length, the side lights may be combined in one lantern carried on the fore and aft centerline of the vessel, except that on a vessel of less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) in length, the sidelights when combined in one lantern shall be placed as nearly as practicable to the fore and aft centerline of the vessel.

"Special flashing light" means a yellow light flashing at regular intervals at a frequency of 50 to 70 flashes per minute, placed as far forward and as nearly as practicable on the fore and aft centerline of the tow and showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of not less than 180° nor more than 225° and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to abeam and no more than 22.5° abaft the beam on either side of the vessel.

"Sternlight" means a white light placed as nearly as practicable at the stern showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 135° and so fixed as to show the light 67.5° from right aft on each side of the vessel.

"Towing light" means a yellow light having the same characteristics as the "sternlight" defined above.

"Underway" means that a vessel is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground.

"Vessel" means every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water, but does not include surfboards, tubes, swimming rafts, inflatable toys and similar devices routinely used as water toys or swimming aids.

"Vessel engaged in fishing" means any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls, or other fishing apparatus that restricts maneuverability, but does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing apparatus that does not restrict maneuverability.

"Vessels in sight of one another" means one can be observed visually from the other.

"Vessel not under command" means a vessel that through some exceptional circumstance is unable to maneuver as required by these rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel.

"Vessel restricted in its ability to maneuver" means a vessel that from the nature of its work is restricted in its ability to maneuver as required in this chapter and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel; vessels restricted in their ability to maneuver include, but are not limited to:

1. A vessel engaged in laying, servicing, or picking up a navigation mark, submarine cable, or pipeline.

2. A vessel engaged in dredging, surveying, or underwater operations.

3. A vessel engaged in replenishment or transferring persons, provisions, or cargo while underway.

4. A vessel engaged in a towing operation such as severely restricts the towing vessel and its tow in their ability to deviate from their course.

Statutory Authority

§§ 29.1-501, 29.1-502, 29.1-701, and 29.1-735 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 5, eff. January 1, 2003.

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