Cathie Asks GMG Readers- “What is The Purpose Of The Groaner?”

Well, that makes sense since it groans.  When people refer to mother Ann’s cow is this what they are referring to?  Can you tell me the purpose of the groaner?



8 thoughts on “Cathie Asks GMG Readers- “What is The Purpose Of The Groaner?”

  1. Notice that the RED whistle buoy off Eastern Point is numbered “2”
    The GREEN Bell off Essex is numbered “1”
    The RED Bell off Ipswich is numbered “2”
    The RED and White Bell off Annisquam is labeled “AR” (not to be confused with “2” off Ipswich) and the next red buoy, a nun, is numbered “4”
    These are what we used to call the “sea marks” for these entrances. The first mark entering from sea is generally big, noisy, and numbered even if red (starting with 2) and to be left to starboard entering and odd if green (starting with 1) if to be left to port entering.
    When you head for Gloucester in the fog by dead reckoning, you try to find the sea mark, in our case the whistle buoy, first. It is surrounded by safe water unlike the light house. Once you find that you can steer for the entrance channel you want.
    By the way growing up racing in that patch of ocean we called it the whistle buoy or simply the whistler. More recently I have heard “groaner” but I grew up with north east gales and not with “noreasters” as well.


  2. I’m with Damon on whistler vs. groaner and especially on “nor’east. The only proper pronunciation is no’theast and a storm from the northeast is a northeast storm. Save Nor’east for the dry cleaner’s. See my blog, As for Mother Ann, that’s a rock formation between Brace Cove and Eastern Point that can be construed when seen from the right angle as a woman’s face. She doesn’t make a sound.
    There’s another whistler/groaner off Halibut Point.


  3. Interesting answers, all, and in 47 years living in Gloucester i’ve never heard it referred to as anything other than “the groaner,” or to be more technical, a “diaphragm buoy.” Think of the toys that one can flip over to hear the sound of a “Mooooo.” It’s the same principle, but built 100 times bigger and stronger. BUT: Cathy asked what its purpose is. The answer: so you can find it in the dark, or in thick fog. Along with other buoys, A buoy marks a channel, a shoal, or other navigational hazards. They are marked on nautical charts. But to use them as a navigational aid, you have to be able to see them, or at night or in fog, or know where they are in some other manner. That;s the job of the “groan” when vision fails you. Referring again to your chart, you know to steer clear of that underwater hazard — or, in the case of a channel marker, you know whether to bear to the left or right of the buoy on your way in or out of port.


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