‘SOUND THE WHISTLE’

It seems that whistle signals are going out-of-fashion. For a recent visit to Seattle, I re-read my journal of 1961 wherein I recorded my first visit to the port. Our Puget Sound pilot had told me how he had been trained to stop the ship in fog and, once in silence, sound a short blast on the whistle and then count the seconds of the echo to measure the distance the ship was from the shore. In effect, it was how seamen had managed well by using echoes even before radar used the same concept.

Today we notice the tendency of seamen to overlook the use of the whistle for making even the mandatory signals required by the ‘International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea’ (Rule 32). But compliance with these simple regulations really is mandatory. Overlooking their requirements might increase the burden of guilt imposed on any ship following an accident.
These regulations do, in essence, address the avoidance of collisions as two situations. In one situation, ships are ‘meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal courses’ (Rule 14 (a)), when ‘each shall alter her course to starboard so that each will pass on the portside of the other’ – a common occurrence.

Full article, ELNAVI magazine, Issue March 2011, page 71

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