Friday, June 12, 2015

Episode 270 (6-15-15): Operation Dry Water Targets Boating Under the Influence

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:20)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 6-12-15.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of June 15, 2015.

MUSIC – 7 sec. – “Dirty Sea,” by Chamomile and Whiskey

This week, that short taste of “Dirty Sea,” by the Charlottesville and Nelson County-based band Chamomile and Whiskey, sets the stage for one of the most serious water subjects: boating under the influence of alcohol.  We start with some start musical metaphors to help describe why alcohol and boating don’t mix – first from “Dirty Sea,” then from “River Song,” by the Blacksburg and Roanoke-based band The Floorboards.  Have a listen for about 50 seconds.

MUSIC  - 48 sec. – “Dirty Sea,” by Chamomile and Whiskey; “River Song,” by the Floorboards

According to U.S. Coast Guard, alcohol is the leading contributing factor in fatal recreational boating accidents where a cause is known, contributing to about 21 percent of such fatalities nationwide in 2014.  Alcohol’s bad for boating for many reasons: it can impair balance and coordination, slow reaction time, affect judgement, and decrease one’s ability to swim.  Judgment, reaction, and coordination obviously affect boat operators, but they also help boat passengers, such as in making the crucial, good decision to wear a life jacket, and in reducing the chances of falling overboard, one of the leading causes of boating-related drownings.

For all of these reasons, Operation Dry Water exists.  Coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, Operation Dry Water is a year-round, nationwide effort of boater education and law enforcement to reduce Boating Under the Influence—or BUI.  Each summer on the weekend before July 4th, Operation Dry Water coordinates a special BUI focus by law-enforcement agencies.  So this year from June 26 to 28, state, local, and Coast Guard officers will increase patrolling for BUI.  Operation Dry Water’s Web site states that “the to change the cultural acceptance of drinking and boating and help boaters have safe and fun recreational boating experiences.”  Here’s to that. 

Thanks to Chamomile and Whiskey and to the Floorboards for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with another short segment of “Dirty Sea.”

MUSIC – 15 sec. - Chamomile and Whiskey, “Dirty Sea”

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Dirty Sea,” from the 2013 album “Wandering Boots,” is copyright by Chamomile and Whiskey and by County Wide Records, used with permission of Chamomile and Whiskey.  More information about Chamomile and Whiskey is available online at, and information about Charlottesville-based County Wide Records is available online at

The excerpt of “River Song” was taken from a live performance by The Floorboards at the Cary Street Cafe in Richmond, Va., on December 13, 2013; used with permission.  The recording was accessed from The Floorboards’ page on Internet Archive,  More information about The Floorboards is available online at


Promotional poster provided by Operation Dry Water, online at

Over 200,000 recreational vessels—including these on Claytor Lake in Pulaski County, Va., in September 2012—have been registered in Virginia annually since at least 1992, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 2012 report on recreational boating accidents, online at


The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ (VDGIF) 2012 report on recreational boating accidents indicated that alcohol contributed to 7 percent of that year’s fatal boating incidents.

Here are several additional comments from VDGIF, from “Boat Safe Without Drugs and Alcohol!”, online at

Risk to Passengers
“A study completed in 2001 shows that boating passengers are more likely to die in a boating accident than the operator.  Many passengers believe they can drink as much as they want as long as the operator stays sober. In reality, passengers are at risk regardless of whether the operator is consuming alcohol or not. This is not only related to crashes, but to falls overboard and capsizing as well.”

“With the inherent dangers of being on the water, passengers falling out of boats are at risk of drowning.  Walking the shoreline close to the water, or walking on docks or piers can be hazardous for those using intoxicants.”

The Law
“When it comes to alcohol, the law for operating a motorboat is nearly the same as for a motor vehicle.  The presumptive level for being under the influence of alcohol is 0.08 BAC.  No person is allowed to operate a watercraft under the influence of alcohol, narcotic drugs, or other self-administered intoxicants or drugs.  Virginia has a "Zero Tolerance" for anyone under 21 years of age. It is unlawful for any person under the age of 21 to operate a boat after consuming alcohol. ...”

Boat without Alcohol
“Contrary to popular belief, most boaters do not take alcohol with them while on the water. A recent survey suggests that nearly 3 out of every 4 boaters would rather spend the day on the water without the worry of having alcohol onboard the boat.”

Wear a Life Jacket
“It is estimated that nearly 80% of all drowning victims would have survived had they been wearing a life jacket.  Even strong swimmers may drown if they end up in the water.”


National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, “Operation Dry Water” Web site,  See particularly “ODW Campaign,” online at; or “Operation Dry Water Campaign Reminds Boaters to Stay Safe by Staying Sober While Boating,” 5/18/15 news release, 5/18/15, online (PDF) at  Participating agencies are listed by state and territory at this link:

National Safe Boating Council, “National Safe Boating Week” (May 16-22, 2015; May 21-27, 2016), online at

U.S. Coast Guard, Boating Safety Division Web site,  The Coast Guard’s “2014 Boating Recreational Statistics” report is online (as PDF) at

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), “Boating,” online at; “Boating Safety and Education,” online at; “Boat Safe Without Drugs and Alcohol!”, online at  VDGIF’s “2012 Recreational Boating Incident Summary” is online (as PDF) at  The main phone number for VDGIF’s central office in Richmond is (804) 367-1000; contact information for local VDGIF offices is available online at, and local office phone numbers are usually listed in the government pages of local phone directories.

Virginia Marine Resources Commission, “Boating Safety,” online at


For previous episodes on boating in Virginia, please see the “Recreation” category” category at the Index link above (


This episode may help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:
Civics and Economics Course

CE.7 – government at the state level.

CE.8 – government at the local level.

World Geography Course

WG.10 – cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Government Course

GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.

GOVT.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at