First, do you have an operative horn that is easily accessible at the helm position(s) on your boat? Powerboats and sailboats are required under the Navigation Rules to sound appropriate whistle signals (ships have “whistles;” the rest of us usually have electric or portable air horns) for maneuvering and warning and in or near areas of restricted visibility. These sound signals are discussed in Navigation Rules 32-36. Even if you are not sounding whistle signals yourself you must know what the signals mean if you hear them. There are a number of signals, and some differ between the Inland and the International Rules. Read Rules 32-36 carefully: the text is available at www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=navRulesContent.
Priscilla Travis spends more than 110 days each year on the water, takes photos, and writes about nautical topics.