Did you know the custom of ‘Piping the Side’ dates from the days of sail when ship’s Captains were frequently called upon to report onboard their senior officer’s… Flagship at sea to receive or discuss orders?.
On those occasions when the sea state was too rough to permit the use of sea gangways, it was customary for a visiting captain to enter and leave his boat by means of a Bosun’s chair rigged on a yardarm whip. The boat carrying a visiting captain would lay off the flagship and an order would be given to ‘Hoist him in’.
The captain concerned would then be hoisted out of his boat and inboard with the requisite orders being passed by pipes made on a Bosun’s call.
The present call used for ‘Piping the Side’ has its origins with the pipe once used for ‘hoisting and walking away’.
Over time this practice evolved and the use of this ‘pipe’ transcended into a form of salute which is routinely practiced, in varying ways, throughout many of the world’s navies.