#967 Bosun’s Whistle
Posted by Tall Ships America on October 18, 2011
Back in 2008, I was at the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® event in San Diego and we had the opportunity to host the Colombian naval tall ship, GLORIA. As the ship was arriving, Colombian’s thronged the dock, waving the country’s flag and singing along to the 11 verses of the national anthem. All the while, the crew was standing on the yardarms and the shipboard cannons were blasting. It is still one of the most impressive arrivals I’ve seen. Our information booth and education center was set up along the dock next to the ship so we got to observe shipboard life up close.
An interesting aspect was, for the first time, I heard a bosun’s whistle being used for all commands, not just for the pipe aboard or general call. No words were exchanged as the crew went about their duties according to what was piped. Because of it’s loud pitch, the whistle can be heard over the sounds of the ocean, bad weather, crew activity, etc. In subsequent years, I have seen this on other naval ships, but that year was the first time and it was fascinating to see that tradition (one that goes back to the 13th century) still at work in our modern fleet. That is what makes tall ships so intriguing, this blend of the traditional and the contemporary. Learning how to appreciate how far we have come, and yet embracing these time honored practices and taking pride in our history is awesome.
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