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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 following requirements apply to vessels operating on West Virginia state waters.

  • Vessels less than 26 feet in length, excluding PWCs, must carry a mouth whistle or a power-operated horn or whistle capable of producing a blast that is audible for at least one-half mile.
  • Vessels that are 26 feet to less than 40 feet in length must carry a hand- or power-operated horn capable of producing a blast that is audible for at least one mile. The vessel also must carry a bell.
  • Vessels that are 40 feet or more in length must carry a power-operated horn or whistle capable of producing a blast that is audible for at least one mile. The vessel also must carry a bell.

These requirements apply to vessels operating on federally controlled waters.

  • Vessels less than 65.6 feet (20 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 audible for at least one-half mile.
  • Vessels that are 65.6 feet (20 meters) or more in length are required to carry on board a whistle or horn and a bell that are audible for at least one mile.