Boating Regulations

Motorboats, PWSC’s (ie. Jet ski’s) and unmotorized boats (ie. sailboats, canoes, etc) are welcomed on Kerr (Buggs Island) Lake. Because the lake includes water in both Virginia and North Carolina, the rules vary slightly. However, each state honors the boating and fishing regulations from the other state.


North Carolina boating is regulated by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Virginia boating is regulated by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. There are a number of regulations regarding life jackets, hull-numbers, registration, boating courses, safety equipment, lighting, alcohol and other things. If you are not familiar with Virginia and North Carolina boating laws, you would wise to read up. Kerr Lake regularly patroled and boats are sometimes stopped.

Required Boating Courses

Both Virginia and North Carolina are ‘phasing in’ requirements that boaters (for motor boats with engines of 10hp or more) and users of PWC’s (Jet Skis, etc) complete ‘Safe Boating Courses.’

In Virginia, as of July 2012, all PWC operators, regardless of age, and motorboat operators 30 years of age or younger must have completed the “safe boating” course and have proof with them. Click here for the new requirements for Virginia.

In North Carolina, the current requirement for the “safe boating” course for boats AND PWC’s is for anyone under the age of 26. If you are visiting North Carolina, you must abide by the requirements of the state where you live.

Both states have an index of both seated and on-line courses by location. For North Carolina courses, click here. Virginia courses, here.

Boat Ramps & Marinas

There are many boat ramps and marinas on Kerr Lake. We are building a new map plotting all boat ramps and marinas on Kerr Lake that we will link to HERE, once it’s complete. Because the lake level can change considerably, when the lake level is low, some ramps do not extend all the way into the water and cannot be used. You can find the current lake level here. You can find the ramp elevations from the Army Corps here.