Category Archives: Boats and Safety

Search here for useful information on safely navigating our creeks under power, sail, or paddle.

2016 Boating Safety Regulations: Updates

New and updated regulations on the requirements for: NACON2016
(1) operating a boat in Virginia waters; and
(2) having the correct safety equipment on board are detailed here:  2016_Boat Safety.

Because of these new regulations, particularly related to boat operator safety education, it is expected that law enforcement personnel will significantly increase their vessel boarding and inspections in our area.

Suddenly In Command

Dymer Creek Boaters,

Suddenly In Command boating safety class offered in the Northern Neck

Suddenly In Command boating safety class offered in the Northern Neck

US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 33 (Kilmarnock) will be presenting an important boating safety course, SUDDENLY IN COMMAND, in Kilmarnock, VA on Saturday 21 March.  This four-hour short course is primarily aimed at the spouses of boaters who may have a limited knowledge of boat operations and do not know what to do of the vessel’s skipper becomes incapacitated.  This course has the potential to save lives and should be taken by spouses, other family members, and friends of boaters.  This course will have all-female instructors who will cover emergency situations such as: (1) How to handle the boat; (2) How to get help; (3) Communications; (4) How to save your crew; and (5) Handling other emergency situations (engine failure, fires, storms, injuries, person overboard, etc.).

A poster providing details on this course is attached to this email.  Please download, printout this post poster and pass it on to members of your family, neighbors, and friends who may be able to benefit from this course.

If you have any questions on this course or any other local boating course, please get back to me.

David H. Herndon
* Chairman, DCEPA Boating Safety Committee
* US Merchant Marine 100-Ton Coastal Masters License (Power, Sail, Towing)
* US Power Squadrons (Port Captain – Chesapeake/Fleets Bay area)
* US Coast Guard Auxiliary (Vessel Examiner)
* Owner/Master, Wayward Wind (1978 Fisher 25 Motorsailer)

Home/Office: 804-435-2056

Virginia Boating Education Requirement



In 2007 Virginia established a boating safety education compliance requirement. The requirement is being phased-in over several years and applies to all Personal Watercraft (PWC) operators (“jet skis”) and operators of boats with motors of 10 hp and greater (including sailboats).

The schedule for compliance is as follows:

  • July 1, 2014    Age 45 and younger
  • July 1, 2015    Age 50 and younger
  • July 1, 2016:   All boaters
  • All PWC operators (a person must be 14 years or older to operate a PWC)

To be in compliance you must pass an approved boating safety course.  Check this link for information about classroom and approved online options.

Dave Herndon, a Dymer resident and boating safety authority, has identified local course options:

1.   A free Boating Education Course from the local flotilla of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (USCGAux). Information on local courses can be found online here.  The Local (Kilmarnock area) CG Auxiliary Flotilla (Flotilla 33) website is hereWalter Montross is the Flotilla 33 Public Education Staff Officer and can set you up for a boating class in the Kilmarnock area.  Walter’s contact information is Home Phone: 580-2250; Cell: 724-3454; Email:

2.  Another free Boating Education Course option is from a local squadron of the United States Power Squadron (USPS). These courses can be found online here.  The local Northern Neck Sail and Power Squadron (NNSPS) website is found hereDave Cook is the NNSPS Education Officer for boating safety courses in the Kilmarnock area and can set you up for a boating class.  Dave’s contact information is Home Phone: 438-6029; Email:

Once you complete a course, you do not have to “register” with the DGIF.  Keep your course completion paperwork onboard with you. You may purchase an optional Lifetime Virginia Boating Safety Education Card. This is a credit card style wallet card available for a $10.00 fee. Click here for more information.

If you are checked by the Virginia Marine Police and you are not in compliance the penalty is a $100 fine.



Boat Equipment Safety Requirements and Vessel Safety Inspections – Dave Herndon, upper Dymer

boatSafetyThe United Stated Coast Guard requires all boats to maintain minimum safety standards and to have specified safety equipment on board.  Both the US Coast Guard and the Virginia Marine Police can legally board your boat without a warrant and inspect it to see if it meets all required safety standards.

During Memorial Day weekend, the Virginia Marine Police were checking vessels in Dymer Creek for proper vessel operator credentials and vessel safety equipment and writing out tickets to violators.

Fines for not meeting these minimum vessel safety standards can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.  Depending on the size and type of boat, basic required minimum safety standards and equipment vary but in general may include items such as proper registration, hull numbering, fire extinguishers, engine ventilation, navigation lights, life jackets, flares, horns, operator permits, etc.

Members of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and US Power Squadron who have been trained and certified as Vessel Examiners have been authorized by the US Coast Guard to perform free, courtesy inspections of pleasure vessels and to issue annual Vessel Safety Check decals to boats that comply with minimum-required federal and state safety standards. 

This courtesy vessel safety check by an USCG Auxiliary or USPS Vessel Safety Examiner covers the same criteria that are used by the US Coast Guard or Virginia Marine Police with several major differences.

If the Coast Guard or Marine Police find a discrepancy, it could result in major fines to the boat owner.  If a Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiner or US Power Squadron Vessel Examiner finds a discrepancy, the boat owner will simply get a list of what is needed to fix the discrepancy. No discrepancies found by a CG Auxiliary or USPS Vessel Examiner will be referred to any marine law enforcement official.

Once the discrepancy has been fixed by the boat owner, the Vessel Examiner will return (if desired by the boat owner), re-inspect the vessel, and issue a decal if everything passes.  Another significant advantage of having a Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Examiner or US Power Squadron Vessel Examiner inspect your vessel is that the examiner will also discuss recommended (but not required) additional safety equipment such as marine VHF radios, anchors, survival tips, fueling procedures, where to receive boating safety training, and other boating safety topics.

Having a current Vessel Safety Decal on your boat will show others that you meet current safety inspection requirements and will significantly decrease the chance of being stopped, boarded, and inspected by a US Coast Guard vessel.

Any qualified vessel examiner (US Coast Guard Auxiliary or US Power Squadron) may examine your boat and issue you a Vessel Safety Check decal.  Qualified Vessel Examiners can inspect any type of pleasure vessel from small, paddle craft to large, ocean-going yachts.

I, Dave Herndon, live on Dymer Creek and am a qualified Vessel Safety Examiner.  I will, by appointment, perform a free Vessel Safety Inspection of any Dymer Creek pleasure vessel. To obtain a Vessel Safety Check for your boat, Contact me: Home: 435-2056; Cell: 761-0409; Email:

I will inspect your boat at my home pier at the west end of Dymer Creek (37º 40.823 N; 076º 21.988 W). You will see my restored, 1978 Fisher motorsailer, Wayward Wind, in the slip on the right side of my pier. Tie up at the end of my pier.  If it is not convenient for you to come to my pier, I will make arrangements to boat or drive to your pier to perform the vessel examination.  If for any reason I am unable to inspect your vessel, I can arrange for other local CG Auxiliary or Power Squadron Vessel Examiners to work with you.

Dave Herndon
•    Board Member, DCEPA
•    US Merchant Marine Coastal Masters License, 100 tons (Power, Sail, and Towing)
•    Member, USCG Auxiliary
•    Member,  Northern Neck Sail and Power Squadron
•    Vessel Examiner
469 Long Lane Farm
White Stone, VA 22578
Home/Office: 804-435-2056
Cell: 804-761-0409