sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Flag Etiquette on a sailing boat today
Flag Etiquette on a sailing boat today

'Never fly a flag which can be mistaken for a signal letter'    .    Click Here to view large photo

Flag etiquette on a sailing boat is a tradition that has been handed down to us by generations of sailors and other mariners. Although often not appropriately respected, if you want to be considered a seasoned sailor, you will do well to observe and perpetuate the pride in old traditions.

Flags are signals and each one says something specific about your boat. They can signal nationality, maneuvering situations, club affiliation, office held or other situations. For the benefit of the sailors who would like to observe the correct etiquette, following are some of the rules. It does well to remember that the rules originated in Britain and have been slightly changed by other English-speaking countries. Remember that flags are 'worn' by a yacht and 'flown' by the owner.

Apart from the ensign, flags commonly worn by a yacht comprise a burgee, a house flag(Private Signal), a courtesy flag when in another country and (if racing) a racing flag.

Before getting to the ensign, here are some general conventions for the minor flags:

House Flags or Private Signal:
House flags are flown at the port spreaders and serve to indicate membership of associations such as a yacht club, or they are a small, custom-designed and custom-made flag that carries symbols standing for the owner, so it can basically be anything. The signal may be flown day or night, but is not displayed when another sailor is in command. (The rule is: the private signal and burgee follow the sailor, not the boat.)

House flags may be flown on the same halyard in which case they should be flown in order of seniority. Never fly a flag which is the same or could be confused for one of the letters of the alphabet.

On a multi-masted boat, the house flag or private signal is flown at the head of the aftermost mast. On a sloop, the private signal may be flown from the starboard rigging, either below the burgee or alone.

Courtesy Flags:
As a matter of courtesy, it is appropriate to fly the flag of a foreign nation on your boat when you enter and operate on its waters. There are only a limited number of positions from which flags may be displayed. Therefore, when a flag of another nation is flown, it usually must displace one of the flags displayed in home waters. However, it is hoisted only after the appropriate authorities have granted clearance. Until clearance is obtained, a boat must fly the yellow'Q' flag. Often cruising sailors fly both the courtesy flag and the quarantine flag (Q flag below) on entering a foreign port.

The courtesy flag is flown at the boat's starboard spreader, whether the ensign is at the stern staff, or flown from the leech. If there is more than one mast, the courtesy flag is flown from the starboard spreader of the forward mast.

It is considered disrespectful and rude to fly a courtesy flag that is old, tattered or raggy. Make sure that you replace flags that do not do justice to the country you are visiting

Lastly, it is also a common courtesy to fly the national flag(s) of your guest(s) on board, if they have a different nationality than the ensign is showing.

Courtesy flags are normally the maritime flag of the country which in most cases will be that same as the National Flag (e.g. France, USA, Netherlands) others may be the National Flag defaced with a device (e.g. Italy, Finland, Morocco) and others may be a totally different flag (e.g. UK, Australia, New Zealand). If you are planning to visit
a foreign country, find out the correct maritime flag from some of the sources shown at the end of this article. Most quality specialist flag shops will have the information.

Flags' Dimensions:
Flags come in standardized sizes, but there are guidelines about selecting the proper size for your boat.

The size of a nautical flag is determined by the size of the boat that flies it. Flags are more often too small than too large. So in the rules below, round upward to the nearestlarger standard size.

The flag at the stern of your boat: The ensign or national flag should be about one inch for each foot of overall length. For example, on a 40ft. boat, the ensign should be 40 in. i.e. about 3.5ft.

Other flags, such as club burgees, private signals and courtesy flags used on sailboats should be approximately 1/2 inch for each foot of the highest mast above the water. For example, on a 30ft. boat, with 50ft. between the masthead and the water, the burgee should be about 25 in. The shape and proportions of pennants and burgees will be prescribed by the organization which they relate to.


British Conventions:

British Red Ensign -  .. .  

The ensign is the principal flag on board, for British yachts it is the Red Ensign and is worn at the most senior position which is as close to the stern of the vessel as possible.

A 'privileged ensign' may be flown if the holder of a warrant to fly one is on board in which case the corresponding burgee must also be flown. Privileged ensigns are usually blue and may be defaced or 'emblazoned' with a heraldic device. They are granted to certain Clubs by the Secretary of State for Defence on behalf of H. M. The Queen.

Red Ensigns are less common – examples likely to be seen around the Solent include the Royal Victoria Yacht Club and the Royal Lymington Yacht Club.

White ensigns may only be flown by Members of the Royal Yacht Squadron.

Any privileged ensign may only be worn when the owner is on board or in the vicinity and the warrant must also be carried on board.

Only one burgee may be flown on the yacht which must match the privileged ensign. It is now common practice to fly the burgee at the starboard spreaders; however, you must be aware that you may not fly any flag above your burgee at the same halyard.

Note: if the burgee is flown at the starboard spreaders and you are entering the territorial waters of another country, you have a dilemma. The starboard spreaders are used for signalling purposes so this is where both the country’s national courtesy flag and the Q flag should be flown. You may not fly any other flag above a national courtesy flag on the same halyard. If your masthead is cluttered with a VHF aerial, wind indicator, trilight and other modern gadgets, the best way round this is to rig a second signal halyard at the starboard spreaders and avoid the conflict.

However, it is common practice among cruising sailors today to fly the courtesy flag on the starboard spreader with the yellow quarantine flag below it. Any burgee or house flag is then carried on the port spreader.

If racing, the ensign should be hauled down and replaced by the racing flag after the five-minute signal and hoisted on finishing or when retiring from the race.

Yachts should salute all Royal Yachts and all warships of any nationality. A salute is made by dipping the ensign to a position two-thirds the way down the halyard from the close-up position. The vessel saluted responds by dipping her ensign then rehoisting it. The saluting yacht then re-hoists her ensign. It is also customary for a Flag Officer to be saluted by a yacht flying the burgee of that club – once per day is usually sufficient!

The Union Flag often called the Union Jack should never be displayed from a yacht. It is the proper flag for any UK Citizen to fly on shore but with the exception of its use as a Jack in the Royal Navy, it is not a sea flag.

The Pilot Jack may be flown by those who wish to 'show the flag' on a British registered yacht. It consists of the Union
Flag surrounded by a white rectangular border and is used as follows:-
· as a stem-head jack in the bows
· an additional dressing-ship flag to be hung on a weighted line from the bowsprit
· as a signal for a pilot when hoisted at the fore

It must not be worn underway unless the yacht is dressed 'over-all'. In harbour, it is hoisted and hauled down with the colours. It is never dipped in salute but may be half-masted together with the ensign on occasions of national mourning.

Yachts may 'Dress Overall' in the UK on the following dates or on other special occasions such as Trafalgar Day, Navy Days, or in the presence of a Royal Standard or Flag of the Head of State or a foreign Sovereign.
6th February Accession Day
2nd Monday in March Commonwealth Day
21st April HM the Queen’s Actual Birthday
Saturday in June (ICW DCI's) HM the Queen’s Official Birthday
2nd June Coronation Day
10th June The Duke of Edinburgh's Birthday The order of the full set of 40 flags (from
stem to stern) is as follows:
E, Q, p3, G, p8, Z, p4, W, p6, P, p1,
1Code, T, Y ,B, X, first Sub, H, third Sub,
D, F, second Sub, U, A, O, M, R, p2, J, p0,
N, p9, K, p7, V, p5, L, C, S.

USA Conventions:

USA -  .. .  

A code was devised by the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons and other yachting authorities for the proper flying of flags aboard recreational boats.

There are points of honor where flags are flown and it should only be flown at the highest point of honor it is entitled. In descending order they are: gaff, flagstaff at the stern, bow staff, starboard yardarm (halyard), truck of mast, port yardarm (halyard).

The highest point of honor on your boat should be reserved for the national ensign. The U.S Ensign is usually flown from the stern of a small boat. A yacht ensign instead of the national ensign may be flown from the stern.

The size of a flag is important. The national ensign should be an inch on the fly for each foot of the overall length of the vessel. All other flags should be 5/8-inch on the fly for each foot of overall length.

Australian conventions:

Australian Ensign -  .. .  

Flag and Yacht Etiquette are derived from Britain, so British rules should be followed, with the following comments:

All Australian ships are entitled to wear the Australian Red Ensign.
However, yachts may wear the defaced Blue Ensign provided that:

The owner has an admiralty warrant to fly the Blue Ensign
The warrant is aboard the yacht at the time
The owner is on board or in effective control of the yacht (eg. ashore in the vicinity)

Burgees and Ensigns must not be worn when racing and a racing flag should be flown from the backstay. Yachts having retired should still wear the burgee and ensign, but should quickly remove the racing flag.

Finally,
Raising and Lowering Flags:
Ensigns are hoisted in harbour when colours are 'made' – normally at 08:00 or at 09:00 between 1 November and 14 February or as soon after that time as people come aboard. The Ensign is lowered at sunset or at 21:00 local time if earlier or before that time if the crew is leaving the yacht. At sea and under way, ensigns may be worn between sunrise and sunset when there is sufficient light to distinguish the flag. It must be worn when meeting other vessels,
when entering or leaving foreign harbours by day or by night, or when approaching forts, signal stations or Coastguard stations.

To prevent wear and tear, the flag may not be flown when out of sight of other vessels or when nobody is aboard. For purists: In the morning, the ensign is hoisted rapidly before other flags. In the evening, it is lowered slowly and with ceremony after other flags come down.

Always handle the National Ensign with dignity. Don’t let it touch the deck. When your flag is tattered, torn or faded deliver it to the appropriate entity such as a veteran's association for disposal. Gag flags such as those depicting a martini glass, bunnies, etc., are unseamanship like and unbecoming.


As you may have noticed while reading the information above, there is some discrepancy between written conventions and what is generally the world-wide convention of most cruising boats on the water today. For further information here are some other references:
· RYA publication Flag Etiquette & Visual Signal
· Flag Etiquette for the New Millennium by Richard Yeowood
· British Flags and Emblems by Graham Bartram
· Flags of the World website at: www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/

Did you enjoy this article? You can subscribe to Sail-World and receive your sailing news regularly by clicking here


by Des Ryan

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=102443

2:40 AM Sun 30 Sep 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.


Related News Stories:

16 Sep 2012  American boaters: are you in hot water with the Tax Man?
08 Sep 2012  Historic new maritime laws passed for Australia
13 Jul 2012  Yacht Club reviews its safety - how does yours measure up?
22 May 2012  Australia's Lake Eyre native title decision - but what of the sailing?
22 May 2012  Lake Eyre native title decision - but will sailing again be allowed?
20 May 2012  Att Sydney sailors: Anchoring threat to Quarantine and Manly Cove West
13 Mar 2012  How to stay sailing longer than 90 days in the Med
10 Mar 2012  Italy saw the light, but Greece drives visiting yachts away
03 Mar 2012  Italy rethinks! - no berthing tax for foreign yachts
21 Feb 2012  Greece and Italy tough on yachts but Bermuda makes it easier
MORE STORIES ...






News - USA and the World

Rolex Sydney to Hobart: Replay video coverage on Sail-World *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
Replay of the start of the 2014 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race. The fleet is expected to experience fresh to strong headwinds for the start and first 24 hours, although winds will moderate towards the end of this period. ... [more]  

Will Comanche take a scalp? by Rob Kothe and the Sail-World Team
After blasting off the startline earlier today, Jim Clark's Comanche continues to hold the lead in the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart race eight hours into the race. ... [more]  

A stiff southerly is testing the boats and sailors on the first afternoon of the 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart and by late afternoon, four yachts had retired from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s annual race. The first casualties of the race were Tina of Melbourne, forced out because of hull damage and Bear Necessity with a damaged rudder, just two hours into the race. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: The 117 competing yachts, including five 100-foot Maxis, represents the race’s largest number of starters since 1994. Of the five Maxis, Jim Clark’s Comanche (USA) made the early gains in the race’s 70th edition, reaching the first mark in record time and setting a blistering pace. Seven-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI was in close pursuit. ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014: A memorable edition of the 628-nm race appears certain, with the contest between the fleet’s five Maxi yachts living up to the pre-race hype. At 8:00pm local time, Comanche leads seven-time line honours winner Wild Oats XI by one nautical mile, with Anthony Bell’s Perpetual Loyal and Syd Fischer’s Ragamuffin 100 just a few miles behind the leading duo. ... [more]  

Top international photographers, Carlo Borlenghi and Daniel Forster were on the water, and in the air, for the start of the 70th edition of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race. Here is a selection of their images of the day. ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 - Start photos by Andrea Francolini. ... [more]  

Comanche skipper Ken Read was in fine form in this video interview. He says On the first night, will there will be too much upwind to be able to send it? It absolutey plays on my mind as the skipper this boat is untested. We’re completely cutting edge, and when it's cutting edge it’s a Formula 1 race car that blows up its engine on the first lap. ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: Brad Kellett, Brindabella’s sailing master, reported that while he was doing his regular checks this evening he discovered larger than normal quantities of water in the bottom of the boat, found to be coming from damaged rudder bearings. 'We were just coming into our own after a risky tactical decision to go offshore paid off,' a disappointed Kellett said. ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Day 1 start images by photographer Carlo Borlenghi ... [more]  

One of the largest fleets in many years started the 70th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race today in a building southerly and in bright sunshine. There seemed to be some mind games going on amongst the super maxis during the pre race dry runs as each in turn put in a single reef in the 30 minutes before the start. Possibly there was some tossing of the coin as to whether it was ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 - Tony Cable just keeps going on. Last year he finished his 48th Sydney Hobart, setting a record for the number of races by an individual - this year it is number 49 - 49 not out, just one off the half ton! ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race: Designed for fast broad reaching, the 15 knot plus south-easterly breeze on the harbour was made to order for the big red and black hulled yacht owned by American Jim Clark and his Australian wife, Kristy. After a brilliant start slightly ahead and to leeward of Wild Oats XI, Comanche swiftly unfurled her giant spinnaker and took off, quickly ‘rolling the Oats’. ... [more]  

America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill could well be the most overqualified grinder you’ll see in action in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart start line today. 'He’s been a wonderful team player and literally in the pre-start you’re going to see him grinding, he said he’d do whatever it takes, and he’s lived up to that,' Comanche skipper Ken Read said. ... [more]  

Expect a spectacular and very fast start down Sydney Harbour in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race this year. At the final briefing for crews at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia this morning, the Bureau of Meteorology’s Andrew Treloar told the sailors that a southerly front is expected to move through Sydney about an hour before race start. ... [more]  

Chicken pies, the gooseneck and the voodoo stick were the last items to be ticked off today in Wild Oats XI’s preparation for a record-breaking bid in the Rolex Sydney Hobart race, which starts on Sydney Harbour at 1pm tomorrow. ... [more]  

The 2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart coverage will go live at 0800 AEST with interviews, but will play the promo until then. ... [more]  

In the media scrum for interviews with the skippers and owners of the five super maxis that followed a short press conference at the CYCA on Christmas Eve, anyone from outside the yachting scene might not have noticed one of the world’s finest sailors and circumnavigators standing quietly to one side chatting with Iain Murray and Steve Jarvin ... [more]  

America’s Cup winning skipper Jimmy Spithill could well be the most overqualified grinder you’ll see in action in the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Rolex Sydney Hobart start line today. 'He’s been a wonderful team player and literally in the pre-start you’re going to see him grinding, he said he’d do whatever it takes, and he’s lived up to that,' Comanche skipper Ken Read said. ... [more]  

When most would have been sitting down for Christmas lunch the Wild Oats XI team were to be seen out on Sydney Harbour testing their new - and appropriately named - gooseneck, that replaces the one that failed when out training earlier in the week. In a puffy nor'easter Wild Oats XI headed to Manly on the wind, swung around close to the Manly East mark and headed back down the harbour for home. ... [more]  

Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race 2014 - The Weather Gate *Feature by John Curnow and Rob Kothe, Sydney
In order to win this iconic ocean race,on handicap, there are three things you absolutely need to have accomplished. Two you can do something about, whereas the third is entirely out of your control. ... [more]  

For Christmas a Shiny new Sail-World.com *Feature by Brendan Maxwell
Santa’s elves started on January 7th 2014 building a set of shiny new Sail-World.com websites and just minutes before Christmas morning in one of Santa’s first touch downs Auckland New Zealand , TetraMedia General Manager Jedda Murphy flicked the switch on the dedicated TetraMeda servers in Frankfurt Germany to take almost all our world-wide audience to the new Sail-World sites. ... [more]  

Professor Pat Pending had the most amazing Convert-a-Car in the 60s cartoon series, the Wacky Races. It could do just about anything. Come Boxing Day and the start of the 70th Sydney-Hobart, some may well wish they had a Convert-a-Boat. Being a hundred feet at the start would be cool. You get away off your own line and in clear breeze. You’re also well inside the rulebook. ... [more]  

Few Americans have won more sailboat races than Ken Read, 53, the President of North Sails . Read is skipper of Comanche, Jim and Kristy Clark’s new 100-fooer, one of five that will be lining up on the startline of the Sydney to Hobart. I caught up with Read some 48 hours before the start to get his pulse on the race, Comanche, and the adventure that lies ahead, en route to Hobart. ... [more]  

The skippers of the five 100 foot super maxis battling for Line Honours in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race speak about the boats, the weather and their expectations. ... [more]  

For sure Christmas is upon the 16 skippers of the Barcelona World Race, but the way they enjoy it or deal with it will be different from team to team, and skipper to skipper. But for everyone the thoughts of the 31st December start, and what lies ahead for the coming three months, are impossible to suppress. Even on Christmas Day. ... [more]  

Volvo Ocean Race: Team Vestas Wind recovery video *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz
Three and a half minute video of the Team Vestas Wind recovery operation from the reef at St Brandon. The Volvo Ocean Racer struck the reef on November 29, just after nightfall breaking off both rudders, she also ;ost a considerable part of her stern section. ... [more]  

The magnitude of this 70th edition is reflected in the size of the international fleet: the forecast 117 race entrants, comprising yachts from seven different countries, represents the most sizeable Rolex Sydney Hobart depart since 1994. 'This year is both the 70th edition of the race and the 70th anniversary of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia,' explains John Cameron. ... [more]  

The lightest of the supermaxi's Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin 100 suffered a major structural deck failure in pre-Hobart training. Sailing master David Witt explains in his usual laconic manner just what happened. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Sydney Hobart yacht race record holder, Wild Oats XI, is the centre of an intense repair effort on the eve of the big race after suffering damage during her most recent training run. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race images are provided by Photographer Carlo Borlenghi. ... [more]  

Images of five faces behind the 100ft super maxis taking part in the 2014 Rolex Sydney to Hobart provided by Photographer Andrea Francolini. ... [more]  

2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Sailors in this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart should watch what they eat on Christmas day or they may well watch Christmas dinner all over again on Boxing Day. ... [more]  

Comanche Designers talk before Sydney Hobart
Olympic Sailing Waters - Rio de Janeiro
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - Holiday gifts for a range of entries!
2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - To Hobart in Style
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race: Ken Read's notes on Comanche
Rolex Sydney Hobart: Rio 100 - A supermaxi is reborn + Video *Feature
Volvo Ocean Race: Video of Team Vestas Wind being removed from reef
St. Maarten Heineken Regatta - Holiday gifts for a range of entries!
Entries open for 2015 ORC Championship events
Rolex Sydney Hobart - Levelling the playing field
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race video preview
Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - It's a Woman’s world too
Moth Worlds – Looping the loop *Feature
Miami Winter Series - M32 racing gets underway
Rio 2016 - Super-bugs found in Rio sailing waters
Building the bridge from Optimist to Laser and beyond – with Byte C1 *Feature
Kieler Woche - Notices of Race published – entry systems are now open
Adventures of a Sailor Girl: News and interviews from December 22 show
RORC Transatlantic 2014 Race Lanzarote-Grenada - Overall report
Volvo Ocean Race: Team Vestas Wind images from the reef recovery
Volvo Ocean Race: Team Vestas Wind recovered from reef   
RORC Transatlantic Race 2014 - Prizegiving   
Qingdao to continue as Asian ISAF Sailing World Cup venue   
2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Will it be Bash and Crash?   
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race: USA's RIO 100 trains off Sydney Heads   
Rolex Sydney Hobart Race - Weather early Xmas gift for small yachts   
2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Hollywood focused on victory   
Soldiering on in the 70th Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race   
Mount Gay Round Barbados Race Series - Count down to Caribbean opener   
Barcelona World Race 2014-15 - The mental game + Videos   
Rolex Sydney Hobart: Jim Clark's thoughts on Comanche's maiden race *Feature   
St Thomas International Regatta announce sponsors   
2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - Salt water therapy   
Soto 40 South American Tour - Coming soon   
Flying Dutchman Worlds on Sydney Harbour   
Moth Tutorials - Presented by Nathan Outteridge   
America's Cup: Full CAS report finds both ISAF and de Ridder at fault *Feature   
2014 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race – One race many nations   
ORC announces new ORCsy rule for superyachts   
Rob and Scarlet’s big adventure before Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT