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On the Western Rivers (the Missippi and its tributaries) you will find a few oddities used in "Radio Speak." Here are a few things you might hear - A common radio contact concerns the overtaking and passing of a barge. Invariably, the non-commercial boat will ask the towboat which side they should pass on. I have never heard a towboat say anything other than "either side." The proper way to do this is to state your intentions, eg, "Southbound tow at John Hartford light, this is the Northbound pleasure craft, one whistle." The tow will tell you "five whistles" which means danger and he doesn't like that or "one whistle" which means OK.

Annouce your direction of travel and the name of your boat at prominant landmarks such as: after leaving a lock, at a City Marina, etc. That will let other boats on the River know you boat's name and give them a chance to let you know you will meet them somewhere on the River.

You should be familiar with the horn signals in the rules of the road for the Western Rivers. These signals can be given with a horn, a light or over the VHF. However, they are required to be given by horn, unless radio contact is positively established.

I recommend a copy of As They Say on the River, a $9.95 book of definitions.