Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Keep Your Ears Open!

May 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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Boaters need to be alert at all times. That’s more than just keeping our eyes open and looking everywhere. When traveling over the water, boaters need to listen, understand, and react to the sound signals from other boats.

Like turn indicators and the horn on a car, sounds are the ways boaters tell others on the water what they plan to do (like cross or overtake) or warn of possible danger. Every boat is required to have something that makes what the U.S. Coast Guard calls “an efficient sound signal” such as a handheld air horn, athletic whistle, or a horn that’s permanently installed on the vessel. Though people can be quite loud at times, yelling does not qualify under the regulations for sound. Bells are not required for boats under 39 feet, but are a good safety feature to have aboard, especially when you need other boats to hear you in fog.

Sound signals are short and prolonged blasts. As examples, a boat that emits one short blast is saying, “I intend to leave you on my port side,” so this means your captain must alter course. Three short blasts technically mean “I am operating astern propulsion,” or what we know as backing up!

If your boat pilot understands and agrees with the other boat’s signal, the signal is repeated. However, if the signal isn’t understood, or the captain has doubts about safety, five short blasts will be sounded. Hearing five or more short blasts anytime you’re out on the water means you must stay alert and wait for instructions from an adult. (To learn all about boat signals, take a young boaters’ safety course.)

Sometimes kids like to plug into their personal music and not pay attention to outside distractions. However, earbuds can block vital communication with other boaters. Stay unplugged while boating and never hesitate to say to the skipper, “Do you hear? That boat is blasting a signal to us!”

webPlus_web_green1    Listen to a U.S. Coast Guard siren



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