Today’s water craft BY LAW should have a sound signalling device to transmit signals.
The Merchant Shipping (Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions) Regulations 1996. aka The COLREGS
(a) The word “whistle” means any sound signalling appliance capable of producing the prescribed blasts and which complies with the specifications in Annex III to these Regulations.
(b) The term “short blast” means a blast of about one second’s duration.
(c) The term “prolonged blast” means a blast of from four to six seconds’ duration.
Equipment for sound signals
(a) A vessel of 12 metres or more in length shall be provided with a whistle, a vessel of 20 metres or more in length shall be provided with a bell in addition to a whistle
It’s important in all sorts of ways including it gives you the ability to transmit Morse code. The simple system of signalling that was scrapped a while ago as the world’s maritime (idiotic) leaders fell in love with electronic based signalling.
A dash is three times the length of a dot.
The duration of a dash is three times the duration of a dot. Each dot or dash is followed by a short silence, equal to the dot duration. The letters of a word are separated by a space equal to three dots (one dash), and the words are separated by a space equal to seven dots.
On our boat the blaster is simply a car horn. Wow, how high-tech is that.
Only in our case it decided to fail out on the water, miles from anywhere, RIGHT WHEN IT WAS NEEDED THE MOST i.e. with some prize prat trying to pour the last dregs of a wine bottle down his throat, drunk as a skunk, and totally oblivious to the 6½ tonne boat bearing down on his fibreglass ‘gin palace’ 20 foot cruiser!
Low-tech rules! (Well some of the time).
What is shown is two fog horns, one steel, and my personal favourite, dead low-tech, a plastic tube L75mm x D44mm with a bit of plastic stuck over one end that chucks out an incredible 100 dB howl.
Well it always has, right up till then when the plastic split on first puff!
One thought that did cross my mind was firing a red flare AT HIM but then I thought:-
“Why waste a flare!”
So what do you do to fix low-tech in a hurry?
Cue the humble nitrile medical inspection glove.
The plastic horn pops apart without tooling, so the glove was jammed in, the lid crammed back on and I let rip with about 20 yards to go. All within 20 yards at 4 knots.
The result was an immediate reaction” to say the least. Drunken sod!
There should be a law about booze and boats i.e. NOT ALLOWED!
OK, so was that the end of it?
Nope, it’s been a week of idiots and needing to warn others that some things in life don’t just get out of their way because they have got a more expensive toy than yours is!
Basic Sound signals
One short blast I am altering course to starboard (to the right)
Two short blasts I am altering course to port (to the left)
Three short blasts My engines are going astern (but I may still be moving forward)
One 10 second blast WTF are you doing!
Two long blasts followed by one short blast “overtaking starboard side”
Two long blasts followed by two short blasts “overtaking port side”
Under power and moving, not more than 2 minutes, one long blast.
Under power but stopped, not more than 2 minutes, two long blasts 2 seconds apart.
It’s not rocket science as is keeping a watch out for others when on the water BUT all common sense goes to pot, vaporizes, or simply vanishes when you ADD ALCOHOL!