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Course Outline

Sound signaling devices: bell, horn

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. The navigation rules for meeting head-on, crossing, and overtaking situations are required.

If boating on Massachusetts state waters, the following requirements apply.

  • Vessels less than 26 feet in length, which includes PWC, are required to carry on board an efficient whistle or other sound-producing mechanical appliance to make an efficient sound signal audible for at least one-half mile.
  • Vessels that are 26 feet or more in length are required to carry on board a whistle or horn and a bell that are audible for at least one-half mile.

These requirements apply to vessels operating on federally controlled waters.

  • Vessels less than 39.4 feet (12 meters), which includes PWC, must have some way of making an efficient sound signal. Examples are a handheld air horn, athletic whistle, an installed horn, etc. A human voice is not acceptable.
  • Vessels that are 39.4 feet (12 meters) or more in length must have a sound-producing device that can produce an efficient sound signal. The sound signal should be audible for one-half mile and should last for 4 to 6 seconds.
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