No Wake Zone Info

The safety and enjoyment of boaters and those who work on our waterways is all of our responsibility.

Excessive speed can cause wakes that endanger recreational boaters, including kayakers and rowers, and can lead to damage and erosion. Please adhere to all wake rules and signage, and also please take every step to minimize disruption or potential danger to others.

State and City Code

State of Virginia

City of Suffolk

No wake Zone

Department of Wildlife Resources*

Virginia Watercraft Owner’s Guide

Speed Laws

“No Wake”
1.“No wake” is defined as the slowest possible speed required to maintain steerage and headway.
2.It shall be unlawful to operate any motorboat greater than no wake speed in areas marked with regulatory “No Wake” buoys.
3.It shall be unlawful to operate any motorboat greater than no wake speed when within 50 feet or less of docks, piers, boathouses, boat ramps, and people in the water. This definition does not prohibit the pulling of a skier with a rope of less than 50 feet, nor a person accompanying the motorboat (wake surfing) provided the motorboat is propelled by an inboard motor.

Slacken Speed

Operators shall reduce speed to avoid endangering persons or property by the effect of the motorboat’s wake when approaching or passing vessels under way, lying to, at anchor, or made fast to the shore; or, when approaching or passing piers, docks, or boathouses; or when approaching or passing persons in the water or using water skis or surfboards.

Safe Speed

A safe speed is a speed less than the maximum at which the operator can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and stop within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.

In establishing a safe operating speed, the operator shall take into account: visibility, traffic density, ability to maneuver the vessel (stopping distance and turning ability), background light at night, proximity of navigational hazards, draft of the vessel, limitations of radar equipment, and the state of wind, sea, and current.

Establishment or Expansion of ‘No Wake Zone’ Signage

To apply for ’No Wake Zone’ signage a completed City of Suffolk, Application for Establishment or Expansion of ‘No Wake Zone’ Signage must be submitted to the Department of Public Works along with a completed Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF), Application for Establishment of Regulatory Markers on Public Waters of Virginia** including all supporting documents.  

Upon receipt of the complete application package, staff will review the conditions of the waterway and the suitability for the request.  Following that review, the Director of Public Works will request that the application be placed on the next available agenda for City Council and Public Hearing (where appropriate).

If your application for establishment of a no wake zone is approved, you will be required to provide all costs for the marker installation and maintenance.


*Please note the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) was renamed to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) as of July 1st 2020.  
**The title of the application does not reflect the new name for the department.


No Wake Zone Applications