When sailing masters aboard tall ships needed to call out commands to the crew, they used speaking-trumpets, a type of megaphone, to aim and amplify their voices so they could be heard the full length of the ship and up to the topmasts. On a small boat, it’s not likely you’ll have trouble making yourself heard by anyone on board, but your voice may not carry well to people on shore, lockmasters, or other boaters in the area, especially if the wind and waves are making a lot of noise.Cupping your hands around your mouth is instinctive and will help a bit, but megaphones are much more effective. For short distances, they can be small, like the pre-electronic type coxswains wore strapped to their heads to reach all members of the rowing crew; for more range they can be larger, like the traffic-cone-sized megaphones coaches once used to communicate between their launches and their crews.

Photographs by the author

Megaphones come in many shapes and sizes. In general, the longer and larger the better, but the more compact ones are easier to keep aboard a small boat.

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