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polaris6 08-10-2006 08:11 PM

Riverboat whistle signals
 
I would like a reference to read about the riverboat whistle conventions. I understand the Inland Rules, but I don't really understand the 'on the one whistle', 'on the two whistle', etc. I have read several abbreviated accounts but I can never discern when reference to 'approaching a vessel', whether the approach is head on, or overtaking.

Can anybody try to straighten me out?

Nick-Taylor 08-10-2006 09:45 PM

Meeting a boat on the one whistle I am pretty sure is on the port - port side, and the two whistle is on the starboard - starboard side. I think this is mainly so towboats know what area of the river to run in while meeting in a bend... ect.

If one of the captains gets on the forum... they can confirm your question... as I am not a certified pilot. :)

Bob Reynolds 08-10-2006 11:31 PM

Nick is right. These are old-time terms that began when the whistles were actually sounded when boats met; one whistle for a port-to-port passing, two whistles for a starboard-to-starboard passing. With the advent of radio communication, the old terms stayed and are now used on the radio -- "I'll see you on the one".

Probably the hardest thing for some people to understand is the overtaking situation. Say I am faster than you are. I ask to pass you. I am the "burdened" vessel -- that is, the burden is on me to stay out of your way, since you are slower. You say "Come by me on two", which is MY two, since I am the burdened vessel. So, I come by you on two whistles, leaving you on my starboard side, just as if I met you on two, I would leave you on my starboard side.

Hope this answers your question![I][/I][I][/I]

This is, by the way, not just a towboat thing, but applies to ANY boat on the water! It applies from the smallest canoe to the largest ship, and everything in between.

Shipyard Sam 08-11-2006 07:25 AM

Bob,

What strikes me as curious is, although whistle signals are rarely blown these days, but should an accident happen, the very first question the CG investigators ask is: [I]"Did you sound the proper whistle signals."[/I]

polaris6 08-11-2006 07:26 AM

Thanks. The point of clarification came when you referred to the other vessel and its starboard or port side. However, below I have included 2 situations, one published in the USAWaterways.com and the other on another site, which confuse me (in the light of the last explanation).

"One whistle" or "see you on one" - this refers to whistle/horn signals. Let's say you are approaching a barge that is still a distance away and you want to go into a cove to your port. You could hail the barge on the VHF and tell him "Two whistles." That lets the barge know you want to go to the side of the river with the cove on it.

What bothers me about this is the port is on the left of the vessel 'making the statement' (that would be the starboard of an oncoming vessel, or the port of a vessel if you were approaching from the rear). In either case, two whistles should apply to the starboard side of one or the other of the vessels. In this case, it would have to the vessel you are approaching head on. But shouldn't the instruction be something different than...." I plan to make a left turn in front of you ...."?

Below is the second example that confuses me:

" An up-river tow, ready to enter the lock, called to ask us (proceeding downstream) to pass him on a two-whistle - that is, to his port - so our diminutive wake would not push him against the bank"

I don't understand this one at all.

Thanks for the help.

Alan Bates 08-11-2006 08:02 AM

Allow me to try: On a two-lane highway in the United States drivers meet each other on the one whistle side. In England they meet on the two whistle side. In order to pass a car in the United States the overtaking car will pass on the two whistle side. Think American two lane highways for passing and meeting rules on the water.

polaris6 08-11-2006 08:21 AM

[QUOTE=Alan Bates]Allow me to try: On a two-lane highway in the United States drivers meet each other on the one whistle side. In England they meet on the two whistle side. In order to pass a car in the United States the overtaking car will pass on the two whistle side. Think American two lane highways for passing and meeting rules on the water.[/QUOTE]
I like that analogy. However, does that address the point of confusion I enumerated in my previous message? If it did, I missed it.

Bob Reynolds 08-11-2006 09:06 AM

Polaris, If I understand you correctly, you want to turn left in front of a tow to go in a cove. You say (or blow), "see you on two". You will be turning to your port side. You will leave the tow on your starboard side. When he gets to you, you will be in the cove already. You are on his straboard (two whistle) side when he comes by. Two whistles. I'm not sure I understand your confusion.

By the way,the preferred term for calling a vessel would be the upBOUND or downBOUND tow at such and such, vs the upRIVER tow. You will never meet of overtake a BARGE unless it is adrift, in which case you should notify someone there is a problem. You will be dealing with TOWS or other vessels.

polaris6 08-11-2006 09:35 AM

[QUOTE=Bob Reynolds]Polaris, If I understand you correctly, you want to turn left in front of a tow to go in a cove. You say (or blow), "see you on two". You will be turning to your port side. You will leave the tow on your starboard side. When he gets to you, you will be in the cove already. You are on his straboard (two whistle) side when he comes by. Two whistles. I'm not sure I understand your confusion.

By the way,the preferred term for calling a vessel would be the upBOUND or downBOUND tow at such and such, vs the upRIVER tow. You will never meet of overtake a BARGE unless it is adrift, in which case you should notify someone there is a problem. You will be dealing with TOWS or other vessels.[/QUOTE]
I am sorry I didn't make myself clear. The two examples were pulled from sources I found on the net; they were not of my making. I posted them to illustrate my confusion with what I found in terms of what I thought I understood.

I understand the two-toot starboard and one-toot port. What I didn;t understand was what I read about the boat entering the lock, and why I when if I wanted to turn to the left in a cove (as explained in the example that I didn't provide), in front of a vessel approaching me, that I should tell that vessel "two whistles".

Remember that these are not my words, but what someone else advised what should be done in this situation. I would have let the vessel pass and turned to port after the approaching vessel passed to be perfectly safe.

My personal concern is that I will be cruising on the Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio in about a month and I was looking for a site with some guidelines for this type of communication. As yet, I have found none, except the one reference @ USAWaterways.com.

Any suggestions?

Alan Bates 08-11-2006 10:07 AM

Boats running toward each other "meet". Boats running in the same direction "pass." A boat overtaking another will "pass" that boat. If two boats meet each other as on an American two-lane highway they will take the one whistle side.


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