The narrowboat horn is an essential on any narrowboat and needs to be a good loud one, and many are in the local chandeliers as they are from car and lorry industry. The horn is a very important item on your narrowboat. Most canal users do not have radios, so the only form of communication is the horn. This will be the only way that a narrowboat skipper can alert other boaters and it is important that they work. Horn signals become very important when navigating around blind bends or bridge holes, and on crowded waterways, it enable you the skipper to inform other boats of your intentions, that is they know what the signals mean. This however can be inforced with hand signals.
The Boaters Hand book gives the following for the blast sounds and the meaning of each signal.
One short blast means: ‘I am turning to starboard (right)’;
Two short blasts means: ‘I am turning to port (left)’;
Three short blasts means: ‘I am stopping or going into reverse’;
Four short and then one short means: ‘I am turning right round to starboard (right)’;
Four short and then two short means: ‘I am turning right round to port (left)’;
One long blast and two short blasts means: ‘I cannot manoeuvre’
One long continuous blast of ten seconds means ‘Warning I am here’
It is important to know these signals to avoid colliding with other boats.