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Sound producing devices

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 described in Unit 4 are examples of when sound signals are required. The sound-producing device may be a whistle, horn, or bell that is audible for one-half mile. All vessels on state and federally controlled waters must have a sound-producing device to communicate.

  • Vessels less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) in length, which includes PWCs, are required to carry on board a whistle or horn or some other means to make an efficient sound signal to signal intentions or positions.
  • Vessels that are 39.4 feet (12 meters) or more in length are required to carry on board a whistle or horn, and a bell.