About the Study Guide

You are looking at a preview of what’s in the timed Pennsylvania Boat Ed Course. Feel free to look around, but you’ll need to register to begin progress toward getting your Pennsylvania Boating Safety Education Certificate.

Learn More Register for the Course

Sound signals when crossing paths

Sound signals must be audible for at least one-half mile. Some common sound signals that you should be familiar with as a recreational boater are as follows.

  • A short blast lasts one second
  • A prolonged blast lasts 4–6 seconds

Changing Direction

  • One short blast tells other boaters, "I intend to pass you on my left (port) side."
  • Two short blasts tell other boaters, "I intend to pass you on my right (starboard) side."
  • Three short blasts tell other boaters, “I am operating astern propulsion.” For some vessels, this tells other boaters, “I am backing up.”

Restricted Visibility

  • 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.

Warning

  • 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.