Category Archives: Boatswains Pipe

The Bosun’s Pipe A Calling

The Bosun’s Pipe A Calling

It was not so long ago when I was playing with a slide whistle that I remembered a great whistle. It was a shiny Bosun’s Whistle that had been in the family. I was not sure who it belonged to , but I do remember that I was entranced by it as a child. The Bosun’s Pipe ( or Boatswains Pipe) or whistle disappeared.


Now as an adult I get that, I was probably driving my Mom crazy blowing the whistle and the sound is high pitched.  Within the four walls of a house it would be a bit much. The whistle wasn’t really gone. It turned up last night as I was poking through boxes of “stuff”. So Mom had kept it just stashed it. This particular pipe could have been hers as a members of Mariners Club or my Uncles from Sea Scouts. It might have been my grandfathers from a sea faring adventure.

You can hear one played at the link:

They have been around since 1238 from what I’ve read on them. The Greeks and Romans using them to give orders to galley slaves on their ships. In 1671 the English Navy took up the pipe as a way of giving orders to be heard over storms at sea. As I’m writing this and the rain beats hard against the window, I can imagine the need for a piercing  call to all hands on deck.


Down through time the Bosun’s pipe or whistle has been used, and still is today. I remember scenes from the old TV show McHale’s Navy  with one. When I showed the pipe to my daughter she  said,     “Sound of Music” That may be the most common remembrance of a Bosun’s Pipe for the non nautical. The wonderful movie scene where the Captain calls the children with the pipe. You can read more from the VonTrapp family legacy about the pipe calls  at this link:

another link with great info, diagrams and midi files is:

One piping term has become part of common usage here is a video explanation:


Are you hooked and you want to buy one to add authenticity to your next nautical storytelling? I found them for sale online in a wide range of prices the nicest here at:   or at

another  of my blog posts a  with nautical theme :