The Massachusetts Boater Safety Handbook
The Official Boating Handbook of the Massachusetts Department of Natural Resources - Web Version
Table of Contents
A sound-producing device is required on all state and federally controlled waters. It is essential during periods of reduced visibility or whenever a vessel operator needs to signal his or her intentions or position.
|If on State Waters|
|Less than 26 feet long (includes PWCs)||Mouth-, hand-, or power-operated whistle or horn, or some other means to make an efficient sound signal audible for at least one-half mile required|
|26 feet long or longer||Whistle or horn, and a bell audible for at least one-half mile required|
|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 tell other boaters, “I intend to pass you on my starboard (right) side.”
- Three short blasts tell other boaters, “I am operating astern propulsion.” For some vessels, this tells other operators, “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 sailing vessels.
- 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.