From letting someone know you are approaching round a sharp bend to attracting attention when in danger on your narrow boat; a working horn on your narrowboat is a vital piece of equipment

A narrowboat horn is used for alerting others to you coming round a sharp bend and as a distress signal
Traditional narrow boat horn
A working horn is your a vital safety feature to alert other narrowboats to your presence or an emergency

Horns… What Do You Need To Know?

Narrowboat horns are available from all good chandlers. Being, usually, 12V they are also available from car accessory dealers and the good old internet.

The principle consideration when specifying a horn for your narrow boat is volt drop. The return wiring can be over 40m on larger boats and has to be sized correctly to avoid over heating and fire.

The International Regulations For Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) apply to horn signals on our waterways:

  • One short blast means turning to starboard (right)
  • Two short blasts means turning to port (left)
  • Three short blasts means moving to astern or reverse

The problem is that the person you are trying to signal may have absolutely no idea what you are on about. It’s highly unlikely that a one time narrowboat holiday maker has even heard of COLREGS, and he or she may just think it’s another uppity boater getting his hair off.

So the time honored tradition of waving and shouting is probably with us for a while yet! Just try and do it with a smile because it may be us that’s made the mistake…


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