Jada’s Blog

3 Tips for a Healthy You

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We all want to be healthy, but sometimes the idea of it seems overwhelming. You can make a few simple changes to your lifestyle that can increase your happiness and put you on the path to a healthier lifestyle.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1. Drink plenty of water. We all get busy and forget to hydrate. Get a water bottle that you can take with you wherever you go to help keep you hydrated.

2. Get enough sleep at night. Sleep is important to both our physical and mental health. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommends that adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep a day.

3. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity weekly. For example, taking a brisk walk. The CDC also recommends some type of muscle strengthening exercise at least 2 days a week.

FAQs About SML

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1. How large/deep is Smith Mountain Lake? At about 32 square miles of surface
(22,000 acres), SML is Virginia’s second largest body of fresh water (The largest,
Kerr Reservoir/Buggs Island Lake, is shared with Maryland). Depth is 220 feet at
the dam, and generally steep shorelines mean even isolated coves offer deep water
for boating, fishing, swimming. It’s not unusual to chart 100-foot-plus depths in
the main channels. SML’s Roanoke river channel runs about 25 miles north
toward Roanoke; the Blackwater River channel runs about twelve miles west.
2. What is the boating like at SML? Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge,
with myriad coves and tributaries for secluded fishing, skiing and
wakeboarding/surfing, swimming and paddling, SML is an ideal boating location.
Waters are clean and the lake’s “twisty-turny” character and steep shorelines
means many areas are well sheltered from the wind, though sailing is also popular
in the more open expanses. Countless coves and creeks offer nearly endless
exploration possibilities. Rental boats are readily available and boater services are
offered at over 20 marinas.
3. Who can operate a boat legally on SML? Anyone who has taken and passed a
NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) – certified
boating safety course can operate a boat on SML. Operators of PWCs (Personal
Water Craft) and boats powered by over 10 HP must be at least 14 years of age.
Operators should carry a copy of their Boater Education Certification card with
them. Cards from other states are valid, or visitors can visit
www.boated.com/virginia for on-line certification.
4. What about water quality? The Smith Mountain Lake Association regularly
monitors and reports on water quality and clarity and has actively discouraged
invasive weed species by stocking fish that feed on unwanted vegetation. The lake
is essentially weed free and see-your-feet clear in all but it’s uppermost reaches.
Water level changes from the power generation cycles discourage formation of
algae and slime—as well as mosquitoes, which most residents find thankfully
absent from their outdoor living spaces.
5. How can I find a good fishing guide? The SML Chamber of Commerce website
( www.visitsmithmountainlake.com ) lists fishing guides who are Chamber
members; a longer list can be found on Google. Experienced guides usually
organize successful outings because they know “where the fish were yesterday”
and can find out where they are on the day of your outing. Monthly meetings of
The SML Striper Club provide local knowledge/tips for those who wish to try
their luck without a guide.
6. What should I know about choosing a property at SML? Ask your realtor to
brief you on the pros and cons of the following options: (1) Main
channel/mountain view vs secluded cove; (2) Sunrise vs. sunset view; (3) Steep

vs. gradual lake frontage; (4) Bedford vs. Franklin vs. Pittsylvania County; (5)
Build new (current dock construction regulations) vs. buy existing (grandfathered
dock may be larger); Rocky Mount vs. Westlake vs. Bedford orientation.
7. What regulations apply to tow sports? Towing of tubers, skiers, wakeboarders
and wakesurfers is allowed sunrise to a half hour after sunset. Wakesurfers cannot
be towed behind outboards and sterndrives (exception for forward-facing
sterndrives). No observer is required if those being towed are wearing life jackets
(but skiing without a life vest is not recommended!). PWC capacity limits (I.E, 2,
3 or 4 passengers) INCLUDE those being towed.
8. Does SML have waterfront restaurants? There are over 20 water-accessible
restaurants at SML, ranging from fine dining to coffee shop, ice cream store, pizza
parlor, tequila bar and dock-side grills. A complete list, updated annually, can be
found at www.smithmountainlake.com . Music is offered at some venues during
the season. Nearby Downtown Roanoke also offers interesting dining alternatives,
as does Bedford.
9. What are winters at the lake like? Climate in southwest Virginia is definitely
four-season, but winters are not severe. Snowfalls, when they do occur, are
usually light and melt away in one or two days. Icing of rural roadways is
common, and schools sometimes close in anticipation of ice events for bus safety.
Some residents with winter aversions opt for a winter respite somewhere warmer,
but those who remain here find plenty of activities to keep them busy and

FAN-tastic Sports Viewing

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Lakers are avid sports fans: cruising the shorelines, one can’t help but notice abundant flags and dock decorations touting Virginia Tech and UVA loyalties or support for Steelers, Eagles and other pro teams. Flat screen TVs are common dock on docks, providing a comfortable over-water setting for enjoying televised games with family and friends. Those who want to support a local team in-person can choose among Roanoke   Junkyard Dawgs hockey and Class A-Advanced Carolina League baseball action—the Salem Red Sox (a farm team of the Boston Red Sox) and, most recently, the Lynchburg Hillcats.  Many games are within an easy drive of SML and priced for retirement incomes!   

Boat Operation Requirements

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All who operate powered boats or personal watercraft (PWCs) on SML must be holders of a card that shows completion of Virginia’s Boater Safety Education training or a NASBLA-approved course from another state. Several sessions of Boater Safety Education are offered each season, some free of charge, by the US Power Squadron and Coast Guard Auxiliary. The Boat Virginia Course is also offered on-line for a fee of $30. Operators should carry a copy of their certification card to be produced if requested by on-water law enforcement. 

Note that there is no minimum age for solo operation of  boats of 10 HP or less or supervised operation of larger vessels, but children must be 14 or older and certified to operate a PWC solo. 

Key watercraft operation guidelines on SML are as follows: 

  • Keep to the right when operating in main channels. 
  • Boats approaching from front right and those being overtaken have right of way, but all skippers must make course and/or speed changes required to avoid a collision with another vessel or obstacle.
  • Navigation lights must be visibly lit from dusk to dawn and under other low-visibility conditions.
  • Boaters are responsible for any injury or damage their wakes may cause; those operating wake-sports tow boats and large cruisers should be especially aware of their wake’s impact on other boaters and lakefront property owners and maintain generous distances from shoreline, docks, swimmers and other vessels or paddlecraft. 
  • Don’t “fall in line” with boats towing tubers, skiers or boarders; watch from a safe distance outside the wake, well away from the person being towed. 
  • The SML Water Safety Council recommends that life jackets be worn by those on, in and around the water. Property owners are encouraged to require life jacket use by children who are swimming or boating and to set an example through their own wearing of flotation devices. 
  • Life jackets are required to be accessibly aboard paddle boards, kayaks and canoes.  
  • The max passenger rating of a PWC—i.e., 2 or 3 persons–INCLUDES anyone being towed on a tube, skis, kneeboard or wakeboard. Having an operator plus observer plus two kids on a tube behind a 3-person SeaDoo will result in a costly citation if witnessed by a sheriff’s deputy or conservation officer.  

General Overview of SML

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Smith Mountain Lake, with 22,000 surface acres (32 sq. mi.) and over 500 miles of shoreline, is Virginia’s second largest lake. The reservoir was formed when the Roanoke River and its tributaries backed up behind Smith Mountain Dam, an Appalachian Power (a division of AEP, American Electric Power) generation project. The resulting pump-storage dam, 30 feet thick at its base and nearly 250 feet tall, was completed in 1963; it wasn’t until March, 1966, that the water level finally reached full-pond level of 895 feet elevation. 

Five gigantic turbines produce up to 560 megawatts of renewable-source electricity with near instant start-up and shut-down capability. The entire project also includes another dam downstream at Leesville, which itself creates a storage reservoir  about one-eighth the size of SML, where water that has flowed through the generating turbines can be held for pump-back and re-use. Water level in SML typically varies by just 1 ½ to 2 feet with weekly power generation cycles. 

Lying near the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains (the scenic Blue Ridge parkway is just 35 miles away) and frequently called “The Jewel of the Blue Ridge,” SML boasts stunning mountain views and breath-taking sunrises and sunsets. The lake does not freeze and is comfortable for swimming from May through September, making it ideal for get-wet water sports during the long summer. It’s also a popular fishery all year long: citation striped, large and small mouth bass are caught regularly, with some 50 resident guides nearly always sending customers home with catches to brag on. Panfish, crappie and catfish are also prevalent.

Boaters find Smith Mountain Lake appealing due to gorgeous scenery, its varied shorelines and many isolated coves and creeks. The Roanoke River is navigable for about 25 main channel miles; the Blackwater for  about 12. While main channel traffic can be heavy on holiday weekend afternoons, boaters can find calm waters and seemingly private places to swim, picnic and cruise weekend mornings and evenings, weekdays and all the months school schedules keep the “summer place” crowd at home.  

Navigating SML

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Smith Mountain Lake was formed when a large pump-storage power generation facility was built across the Roanoke River in Huddleston, VA. Once the dam—a full 250′ tall and 30′ thick at its base—closed off the river flow in 1963, water backed up into the craggy valleys of the Roanoke and Blackwater rivers and their many feeder creeks and streams. That makes for a very scenic lake with myriad twists and turns, points and peninsulas that can seem ever-changing with travel direction, seasons, time of day and weather conditions. Shorelines range from towering mountains to farmland to residences grand and modest.  

Fortunately, the lake’s main channels are well-defined with lighted US Coast Guard approved channel markers that make finding one’s way around quite manageable. Traveling up-river (away from the dam), boaters pass piling-mounted odd numbered  square green markers to their left and even-numbered red triangular markers to their right. Numbers increase as one travels up-river toward the source of each river or major creek, beginning with #1 at each river or tributary’s mouth. Thus, markers on the Roanoke begin with R1 near the dam and run to R87 at Hardy Bridge; on the Blackwater from B1 near Vista Point to B57 near the end of navigable water. Other marked tributaries include Gills Creek (Markers G1 – G10), Craddock Creek (C1- C9), Beaver Dam Creek (BE2 to BE9), Bull Run (BU1 to BU5) and Little Bull Run (BR1 to BR3).  Markers generally alternate left to right in numerical sequence, though there are some exceptions to reflect sight lines. Remember: “Red on Right” as you “Return” to each river’s source (travel up-river). Shoals, rocks and no-wake zones are usually marked with floating buoys, though there are some piling-mounted lighted shoal markers in the large bay near R11. 

While some mistakenly refer to channel markers as “mile markers,” there is actually no distance significance to their placement. Indeed, some are very close together to delineate a sharp bends; others, where the sight lines are long, are much further apart. Boaters are encouraged to carry a lake map and GPS app and to cut speed and keep an extra intense lookout during hours of darkness when it can be difficult to distinguish channel marker lights from other boats’ running lights and light sources on shore.  

SML provides many wonderful opportunities for exploration, and becoming familiar with reaches of the lake miles away from “home port”–be that launching ramp, condo marina or home dock–is part of the boating fun.  Remembering to note where you started, which direction you traveled, and key landmarks along the way is always prudent…as is an eye on your weather app to avoid being surprised by summer evening storms. Those are normally short-lived, and any dock one chooses for temporary refuge will likely be a welcoming one!

Ideal Place for Golfers

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Those who enjoy golf will find plenty of places to claim starting times near SML. The naturally rolling and wooded terrain common to the lake area make for interesting and challenging layouts; several courses have holes set against mountain backdrops and that use the lake’s coves as natural water hazards. The area’s moderate climate often precludes the need to play at dawn to beat the suffocating summer heat that plagues golfers further south.  Yet, year-round golf can be enjoyed by those willing to bundle up just a bit.  

The Waterfront, Mariner’s Landing and The Water’s Edge are three top-notch private clubs along the lake shore; the Water’s Edge , a PGA Championship layout that was one of the nation’s top new courses by Golf Digest. The Westlake is a challenging and attractive links that welcomes members as well as others who just wish to play there occasionally. 

Some Lakers also opt to travel to several nearby public-access courses in Roanoke and it’s surrounds as part of a “keep it fresh” course choice strategy. But whether you opt for staying close to the lake or venturing a ways away for variety, you’ll find appealing golfing opportunities at Smith Mountain Lake!

Festivals and Events at SML

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A number of organized major events grace the Lake area each year and provide residents and visitors a range of fun things to experience as well as activities with which to become involved in some way. Here is just a sampling:

  • Boating Safety events – Multiple sessions of Virginia’s “Boat Virginia” boating safety education program are offered beginning in January. With warmer weather come several opportunities for free Boating Safety Equipment inspections at local marinas by trained members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and US Sail and Power Squadron. 
  • Lyrics on the Lake – Talented musicians perform their original compositions at several pub-style venues around the Lake and are judged by visiting Nashville artists. Audience voting also plays a part in picking a winner for a Nashville audition.  
  • Pirate Days – A Chamber of Commerce event held one weekend each July featuring decorated boats and costumed crews engaging in mock battles with biodegradable water balloons, water cannons and other “soaker” weapons. Several waterfront parties occur and many retailers offer specials to celebrate the family-friendly event. 
  • Wake the World – Many owners of inboard (for safety) towboats gather to provide a day of swimming/tubing/skiing/wakeboarding for area children who might otherwise never have the chance. Organized by Crazy Horse Marina and Bridgewater’s Smith Mountain Wake tow-sports shop, over 100 kids are treated to this very special day of on-water fun. 
  • SML Wine Festival – Aficionados and curious alike enjoy a weekend of sampling Virginia wines and craft beers plus music, crafts and food concessions.  
  • Antique Boat Show – The SML Antique and Classic Boat Society’s annual fall showing of restored early Chris Craft and Century “woodie” vessels, plus examples of early fiberglass runabouts. Many of the boats shown are resident to SML; others come from afar for the weekend of showings and cruising. All are a delight for the curious who stroll the docks of Mariners’ Landing to ogle the workmanship that has brought these old boats back to life. 
  • Charity Home Tour – It takes over 1100 volunteers to stage this, the area’s biggest charity fundraiser, held each year on Columbus Day weekend. Eight stunning waterfront homes are opened for public inspection; proceeds go to area charities that apply to participate. CHT has raised nearly $5 million in it’s 29 year history.  
  • Christmas Boat Parade – A line-up of decorated boats follow the Virginia Dare “sidewheeler” replica on an after-dark cruise up the Roanoke River to Bridgewater Plaza. Boat crews and guests at parade-watching parties in shorefront homes contribute toys for children of impoverished families.

New Listing!

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1790 Windlass Road // Moneta, Va 24121

Top notch town home now available in the very desirable ”Waterfront” Community, ideal location by land and water. This unit has been remodeled from top to bottom, with an all new kitchen with quartz counters and stainless steel appliances and all re-modeled bathrooms with high end finishes that you’ll love. The heat pump was replaced in 2017, all new windows and doors in 2017, a new bar in the lower level, dry deck and much more. You will LOVE this unit!! The deeded slip is just steps away from your awesome view of the water.

Bedrooms: 3 | Bathrooms: 2 Full, 1 Half
Square Feet: 1,536