Thursday, January 10, 2008


A boatswain's call or boatswain's pipe (or bosun's whistle) is a pipe that is made of a tube (called the gun), that directs air over a grape-sized metal sphere (called the buoy) with a hole cut in the top. The Bos'n opens and closes the hand over the hole to change the pitch.
The history of the boatswain's call was as a signaling device on a ship. Because of its high pitch, it could be heard over the activities of the crew and bad weather. It is now used in the traditional color, sunset and other ceremonies of several navies, sometimes combined with other auditive features: ruffles and flourishes, or even a gun salute.

Haul: The most basic of calls, crews of warships were not allowed to sing work songs or shanties so the pipe coordinated the sailors. The low note was for the pause and preparatory, the high for pulling on the line.

The Side: Or Away Galley, descends from the tradition of hoisting officers aboard ship in a chair. The higher the rank, the more men an officer received. It is a combination of Haul, and then a command to lower. This call remains in use as a honor given to officers when embarking or disembarking.

Away Boats: Would be used to order ship's boats to leave the ship's side.

Call the Boatswain's Mates: The boatswains gang to report.

All Hands on Deck: Crews were split into two watches that stood four hours on and four hours off duty. This is the call that would be used to signal the entire crew to assemble on deck.

Word to be Passed: Command for silence, an order to follow.

Pipe Down: Dismissal of all the crew not on watch.

Sweep Down Fore and Aft: Clean up ship before liberity.

Dinner or Supper: Called the crew to this meal.