The Handbook of Iowa Boating Laws and Responsibilities
The Official Boating Handbook of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources - Web Version
Table of Contents
In periods of reduced visibility or whenever a vessel operator needs to signal his or her intentions or position, a sound producing device is essential.
If on State Waters or on the Mississippi River, Missouri River, or Federal Reservoirs*
|Less than 16 feet long (Class I)||None required, but at least a whistle is recommended|
|16 feet long or longer but less than 26 feet long (Class II)||Whistle or other sound-producing device required|
|26 feet long or longer (Class III or IV)||Whistle or other sound-producing device and a bell required|
|* Federal reservoirs in Iowa include Saylorville, Red Rock, Rathbun, and Coralville Reservoirs.|
If on Federally Controlled Waters
|Less than 65.6 feet long (includes PWCs)||Whistle or horn audible for at least one-half mile required|
|65.6 feet long or longer||Whistle or horn and a bell audible for at least one mile required|
Some common sound signals that you should be familiar with as a recreational boater are as follows.
- One short blast tells other boaters, “I intend to pass you on my port (left) side.”
- Two short blasts tells other boaters, “I intend to pass you on my starboard (right) side.”
- Three short blasts tells other boaters, “I am operating astern propulsion.” For some vessels, this tells other boaters, “I am backing up.”
- One prolonged blast at intervals of not more than two minutes is the signal used by power-driven vessels when underway.
- One prolonged blast plus two short blasts at intervals of not more than two minutes is the signal used by sailboats under sail.
- One prolonged blast is a warning signal (for example, used when coming around a blind bend or exiting a slip).
- Five (or more) short, rapid blasts signal danger or signal that you do not understand or that you disagree with the other boater’s intentions.