Friday, February 29, 2008

Whistling Buoys


Valuable Aids to Navigation and Repairers Keep Them In Tune

One of the most interesting aids to navigation is the whistling buoys. There are several of them off the cape, and their dull, hoarse groaning may often be heard for miles.

They are clumsy affairs of steel, ranging in length from 30 to 35 feet, with an air tank shaped like a pear about 10 feet high and 9 feet in diameter from which an 18 inch pipe 20 feet long protrudes.

These buoys may be seen at the lighthouse department storehouses on Diamond island, where buoys of all kinds and shape are kept ready to be placed over some rock dangerous to navigation or to replace any which may be damaged or adrift.

This long pipe which runs down into the water is what furnishes the power for the whistle.

When the buoy is in the water, the rolling of the waves up through pipe and the pressure on the air in the tank forces it out through the whistle, and the well-known dismal sound is the result.

Whistle buoys in different ports of the coast are given a different pitch in order that the mariner may, on a thick night be able to know his locality by the difference in the sound.

It is the duty of the officers to adjust the pitch of these whistles when they get out of tune, And they have become so expert at it that they can detect and remedy the slightest variation from the correct pitch.

The adjustment of these whistles must be made while they are in place, and sometimes the great necessity of the marks on dangerous rocks obliges the men on the buoy boats to make these repairs in very rough weather.

The repairing crew usually includes the mate and one man, who are rowed up to the buoy until they are able to grasp the rings on the side and clamber up over the side to the cage which protects the whistle.

Perhaps the most dangerous duty which falls to the lot of the buoy tenders is that of replacing the heavy buoys during a storm or while a heavy sea is running.

With the steamer rolling her rails under the greatest care must be taken to avoid accident, and many are the stories of narrow escapes related by strong, rugged men who perform this dangerous work. — Augusta (Maine) Journal.

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