It was a Scot who invented the automated fog signal after centuries where only a bell was used (Aberdeen’s fog bell can still be seen near the new Marine Operations centre in Fittie). Robert Foulis, who had emigrated to Canada, heard his daughter’s piano playing as he returned home on a foggy night and noticed the low notes carried further. He built a steam-powered device which sounded sonorous bass notes and it was installed on Partridge Island, New Brunswick in 1859.
The sound of our Torry Coo not only resembled the bovine braying, but to a legendary sea monster that lived in Greyhope Bay it sounded just like a male of her species. The story goes that she cried back to the fog horn’s sound, thinking it was a potential mate, yet was eternally disappointed as although she heard the returning call, she could never find her handsome male monster! The echoes of the fog signal out at sea were apparently the lady monster’s anguished utterances, until of course, the Coo was silenced forever.
Ships today are full of technical wizardry which have made the Coo and her ‘herd’ obsolete, but you never know when we will need them again!