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Shut Up Already! (Or Don’t) These Huge Ships Blowing Their Horns Mean Lots More Than Just Noise (Video)

Shut Up Already! (Or Don’t) These Huge Ships Blowing Their Horns Mean Lots More Than Just Noise (Video)

(By Greg Rourke) – Here on BangShift we like things that are fast, loud and big. Sometimes we get all three, but today we only get two. Big and loud are good.

First off, a little education as I sometimes offer. The large vessels that carry bulk commodities such as taconite, grain and such on the Great Lakes are called “boats”, never “ships”. This is as long as they are too big to fit through the lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway and out into the Atlantic. Vessels that can fit through the locks are “salties”, or “ships.” It’s been said that one can put a boat on a ship, but not a ship on a boat, that does not apply on the Great Lakes. Take notes, there may be a quiz later.
Up in the twin cities of Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota there is a very busy harbor, possibly the busiest fresh water harbor in the world. Spanning the inlet is a big ass vertical lift bridge. The whole center span lifts, not pivoting from the sides, Blues Brothers style. As the boats approach the bridge they give a horn blast to let the bridge tender know to get busy. Long-short-long-short means open the bridge or we’re going to  have a small problem. The bridge tender responds with horns of his own with a long-short-short, meaning I heard you, don’t get your panties in a bunch. I’m paraphrasing here, they probably use some nautical terms but you get the idea.
There is a park at the harbor entrance, and a museum. Folks gather along the inlet and wait for the boats to come and go. The local newspaper publishes schedules. No, it’s not 300mph Top Fuelers. Some of these boats are as long as a dragstrip, although I wouldn’t suggest racing on the deck, what with no shut down area. Still, it’s big and loud. And it’s on my bucket list for this year.
Okay, enough of that. Let’s listen to some horns.

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7 thoughts on “Shut Up Already! (Or Don’t) These Huge Ships Blowing Their Horns Mean Lots More Than Just Noise (Video)

  1. floating doc

    Early one foggy morning, I was trolling for grouper in my 16 foot whaler. I was monitoring radio traffic, since I was in the ship channel where it passes under the Sunshine Skyway bridge across Tampa Bay.

    The harbor pilot on an outbound freighter came on the radio to declare his location, and that he was about five minutes from crossing under the bridge. I replied that I was in the channel, and was immediately moving aside to clear the channel.

    The pilot replied, “Captain, can you hear my horn?”, followed by a blast on the ship’s horn.

    Well, you know how fog magnifies sound? Scared the CRAP out of me! Not only because it was loud, but because it sounded like he was about to run over me! I had plenty of time to clear the channel at trolling speed (I was already on the edge of the channel), but I gunned it, and was about 50 yards away in seconds.

  2. Jeff McDonald

    Last summer a friend from Arkansas visited the Soo Locks between Michigan and Canada. He was so fascinated watching the big boats go through the locks that he wanted to spend the whole day sitting on a park bench watching. I know it\’s not car related but that is a sight that everyone should see at least once.

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