Advanced Nav Rules, Part 3 of 3 … Whistle Me a Tune … Mechanical Songs … This boating safety tip focuses on information that is conveyed by a whistle, the ship’s horn, a loud hailer, or the ship’s radio through a loudspeaker (collectively whistle signals). I like to call them mechanical songs. Each tune, or series of prolonged and short blasts loudly announces audible navigational instructions. Whistle signals are only used during daylight hours, in clear visibility, and if two vessels are meeting or crossing within half a mile. The vessels also need to be in sight of one another. Avoid broadcasting signals that do not comply with the navigation rules. It is also important for all boaters to know what message the whistle signal is conveying. This helps the skipper and crew understand what type of action needs to be taken. The descriptions that follow are a selection of the important whistle signals that are required by both commercial and recreational boats. For the complete list of signals consult the Coast Guard Navigation Rules book. This is available at most marine supply stores. In all cases whistle signals are to be used only during clear weather conditions. If visibility becomes restricted, do not sound a whistle signal that is other than a fog or an anchor signal. Unlike navigational lights and day shapes, International rules and Inland rules differ when it comes to the type of sound signals used. International Sound Signals … A: (Meeting or crossing. No response required) … 1. One Short Blast … I am altering course to starboard. 2. Two Short Blasts … I am altering course to port. 3. Three Short Blasts … I am operating in stern propulsion. B: (Overtaking in a narrow channel. Answer required). 4. Two Prolong Blasts Followed by One Short Blast ... I intend to overtake you on your starboard … 5. Two Prolonged Followed by Two Short Blasts … I intend to overtake you on your starboard … 6. One Prolonged, One Short, One Prolonged, One Short Blasts … I agree to be overtaken … 7. Five Short Blasts …The danger Signal … 8. One Prolonged Blast … I am approaching a bend in the channel. Inland Sound Signals … C: (Meeting or crossing. A like whistle response to the proposed action is required) … 9. One Short Blast … I propose leaving you on my starboard. 10. Two Short Blasts … I propose leaving you on my port. 11. Three Short Blasts … I am operating in stern propulsion. 12. Five Short Blast … The danger Signal … 13. One Prolonged Blast …I am approaching a bend in the channel or leaving a birth or slip. D: (I intend to overtake you in the channel. Answer required). In Restricted Visibility (Inland and International) … E: (The following sound signals are used by both International and Inland rules) 14. Power Driven Making Way … One prolonged blast. 15. Power Driven Vessel Underway but Stopped … Two prolonged blasts. 16. A Manned Vessel Being Towed … One prolonged blast followed by three short blasts. 17. A Pilot Vessel … Four short blasts. 18. Not Under Command, Restricted in Ability to Maneuver, Constrained by Draft, Sailing, Fishing, Towing, or Pushing, Fishing at Anchor, and Restricted at Anchor … One prolonged blast followed by 2 short blasts. Anchored Vessels … 19. One Short, One Prolonged, One Short Blasts … Bells and Gongs … 20. Less than 100 Meter: Rapid Ringing of the Bell for 5 Seconds One per Minute: Greater than 100 Meters, Rapid Ringing of the Bell for 5 Seconds Forward Followed by a 5 Second Clapping of the Gong Aft … Vessels Aground … 21. Three Claps of the Bell Followed by Five Seconds of Rapid Bell Ringing, Followed by Three Bell Claps Repeated Every Minute. Longer than 100 Meters add a Ringing on the Gong for 5 Seconds Aft. … Actions to be Taken While in Foggy Conditions … 22. Proceed at a safe speed. If in a Power Driven Vessel Sound One 5 Second Blast Every Two Minutes … 23. If in Other Types of Vessels Sound One Prolonged Blast Followed by Two Short Blasts Every Two Minutes … 24. If You Hear a Fog Signal Forward, Slow to Bare Steerage or Stop … Radar Targets Forward … 25. Proceed at Bare Steerage, Do Not Turn to Port Unless You Are Overtaking the Vessel Ahead … Radar Targets Abaft or Abeam … 26. Maintain Course and Proceed at a Safe Speed … Actions to be Taken by the Skipper and Crew … 27. A Radar Watch Should be Maintained at All Times. In Addition, Crew Members and Guests Could be Assigned to Stand Watch at Each Quarter Of the Vessel. If Any Vessels are Sighted, or Heard They Should be Reported Immediately! … Boating Safety Classes … 45 states in the US require boaters to take safe boating classes which cover the basic inland navigation rules for recreational boaters. These classes are very good. They are available in live lecture, and online formats. However, these basic classes do not include rules that specifically apply to commercial vessels. The broader set of rules include requirements for lights, shapes, and whistles that identify a commercial vessel’s mission, configuration, and operational status. Smart skippers know the importance of knowing what ships are in near proximity of their vessel. To find online State Boating Safety Courses go to Helpful Resources in Captain Stormalong’s Tall Tale Blog @ boatopsandsafety.com. Congratulations … You have successfully navigated Whistle Me a Tune. Sounding Navigation Signals at Sea. …All serious skippers should have a clear understanding of the sights and sounds used by commercial vessels, and recreational boats. Remember, Smart Boating is Safe Boating !!!
Advanced Navigation Rules. Part 3 of 3.
Updated: Apr 20, 2021