Chapter 5: Navigation Rules

Sound Signal Device Requirements

Using sound to alert other vessels is one of the best ways to avoid a collision. For this reason, there are different federal requirements regarding sound signaling equipment depending on the length of the vessel.

For unpowered boats, one needs to have the ability to produce a sound signal which can be heard by another boater in time to alert and prevent a collision. Whistles, bells, and air horns are all acceptable.

For vessels between 39.4 feet (12 meters) and 65 feet in length

Sound Signaling Devices

It is mandatory to have a bell along with either an air horn OR whistle on board.

For vessels less than 39.4 feet in length (12 meters) in length

Sound Signaling Requirements

At least one effective sound producing device is required, such as an air horn or whistle is required.

For more information on larger vessels, refer to the U.S. Coast Guard Navigational Rules and Regulations Handbook.