sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Australia Cruising USA Cruising Canada Boats for Sale Sail-World Racing Photo Gallery FishingBoating
Video Gallery Newsletters
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 ...






Sail-World Cruising News - local and the World

Reporting this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, an international team of scientists describe how they were surprised to discover that the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains show little sign of erosion, and that its saw-toothed towering crags resemble the modern ranges like the European Alps or Rocky Mountains. ... [more]  

Clear the Decks! by Paul Shard, Bahamas
Twenty-five years ago when Sheryl and I were building and outfitting our first boat, 'Two-Step', a Classic 37, we tried to imagine sailing her in a storm. We did a lot of research about storm tactics and as a result we designed the deck layout so we could handle most tasks from the cockpit and bought heavy weather sails. ... [more]  

The world’s largest sailing media group, Sail-World.com, held its first continental group meeting at the Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) this week. METS is the world’s largest B2B Marine show and this year it had a record 1358 exhibitors and more than 21,000 Marine industry representatives. ... [more]  

On Monday 17 November, an impressive line-up of speakers at 13th International Sailing Summit shared ideas and best practice from around the world, demonstrating how the sailing industry can change to increase and retain participation, through innovation, technology and cultural changes. British Cycling has seen its membership grow by 567% since 2005. ... [more]  

Extinction risk not the answer for reef futures by ARC Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies
Coral and reef fishes are not like pandas and tigers, and the extinction risks they face are much lower. Leading coral reef scientists in Australia and the USA say there needs to be a new approach to protecting the future of marine ecosystems, with a shift away from the current focus on extinction threat. ... [more]  

ARC+ fleet sets sail for Saint Lucia by World Cruising Club
The ARC+ fleet got underway in good conditions on November 19th as they set out on Leg 2 of the ARC+ from São Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands to Saint Lucia. Conditions at the start were excellent with a NE wind of around 10 knots blowing across the start line. ... [more]  

Sail safer with these 'landfall light' secrets by Captain John Jamieson, Florida
Imagine sailing toward the coast, with landfall just over the horizon. Your GPS signal has been weak and unreliable. You strain your eyes to pick up the light that marks the entrance to the safe harbor ahead. What three sea-tested sailing tips can you use to keep your small sailboat and your sailing crew in safe water? ... [more]  

The Mediterranean Sea is a destination area that many people aspire to visit. ‘The Med’ as it is often known touches the coastlines of a number of countries and is an attractive area for holidaymakers due to the wonderful climate and welcoming people. Sailing The Med is a dream for many boating enthusiasts and the waters hold many exciting adventures. ... [more]  

Garmin Ltd has announced a new line of scanning transducers designed to accommodate any calibre of mariner, from the casual cruiser to the professional angler. Supporting both the newest lines of Garmin echoMAP and GPSMAP chartplotters and multifunction displays (MFD), this full array of thru-hull and transom-mounted transducers are a valuable addition to any vessel. ... [more]  

Rhode Island is the second most densely populated stateun the USA , and its 420 miles of coastline are crowded with homes and businesses, residents and tourists. The increasing rate of erosion and sea level rise, and the effects of coastal storms and flooding, are making the state’s coastal landscape ever smaller. ... [more]  

The Marion-Bermuda Cruising Yacht Race, Inc. and event host the Harraseeket Yacht Club announce a cruising yacht rally from Maine to Marion in advance of the 2015 Marion-Bermuda race. Called the M2M2B, the rally will be an enjoyable and convenient way for Maine-based yacht skippers to sail from Maine to Marion, MA as they stage their boats for the 2015 Marion-Bermuda race. ... [more]  

Spinnakers and Parasails flying, the 34 Atlantic Odyssey yachts crossed the start line off Arrecife bound for Martinique some 2700 miles away. Although Sephina, an Australian Lagoon 400, crossed the line first, she was a little ahead of time, so the first boat in fact to cross the start line correctly after the 12 noon starting gun was Gazel Rebel from France, a Pogo 850. ... [more]  

The last arrival of the World ARC fleet into Richard’s Bay marked the achievement of the 21 yachts crossing the Indian Ocean! A challenging crossing, particularly for the last half of arrivals included key equipment failures. 'Everything looked fine until Roger noticed a crack in the boom. We had broken the boom!' – Free & BrEasy ... [more]  

Doyle Sails New Zealand will once again be exhibiting in the Superyacht Pavilion at the upcoming Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS), running from 19-20 November in Amsterdam. Our stand will be in its usual spot in the main hall - stand 10.715 - and we look forward to welcoming you to the show. ... [more]  

ARC 2014 Opening Ceremony - With one week to go before the ARC 2014 fleet leave Las Palmas de Gran Canaria for Rodney Bay in Saint Lucia, crews from across the world marched and danced behind their national flags in a stirring parade around Las Palmas Marina. ... [more]  

Although he is the oldest Skipper in ARC 2014, Manfred Kerstan from Berlin certainly doesn’t show it and is all set to enjoy his 20th ARC to its fullest. Over the years, Manfred has embraced the real spirit of the ARC, and is a stalwart presence at social functions and seminars, talking to participants old and new about all aspects of the rally. ... [more]  

Whilst waiting for the ARC+ fleet to arrive at their mid-Atlantic stop of Mindelo, on Cape Verdean island of São Vicente, you easily realise the excitement which is bubbling around the Marina, in the government offices and in bars and restaurants. ... [more]  

Nothing ever bad happens in the rally, right? If you read the daily news stories over the years, you’d certainly think so. But despite what I sometimes think of as the ‘propaganda’ that we post in the news and features during the 1500 (and I’m myself responsible for producing it), I feel we ought to focus at least occasionally on some of the more unfortunate realities of ocean sailing. ... [more]  

Sailing allows us to travel long distances with relatively low carbon emissions, but the reality is that all yachts burn diesel for motive power and to generate electricity. Conscious of this impact, ARC organiser World Cruising Club has teamed up with local non-profit forestry organisations in Gran Canaria to develop and sponsor a carbon offset project. ... [more]  

Expressing continued grave concern over piracy off the coast of Somalia despite a sharp decline in attacks, the Security Council has renewed for another year authorizations, first agreed in 2008, for international action to fight the crime in cooperation with Government authorities. ... [more]  

During the last two weeks we have received the details of the boats for the provisional entry list in the World Odyssey Race (see list below). Unfortunately we were forced to recognise that too many of those who have expressed an interest in sailing in the World Odyssey Race would do so on yachts which may not be suitable for the rigours of a circumnavigation in high latitudes. ... [more]  

Falcon, the 80’ Cookson, did the expected and beat the rest of the fleet to the BVI. The ex-America’s Cup training vessel, now a tricked out cruising yacht, sailed the course in just over seven days, arriving Monday night around 9pm. 'We had the perfect passage,' said the yacht’s owner Cary St. Onge. ... [more]  

With 75% of the ARC fleet now in Las Palmas, the docks of the Muelle Deportivo are populated with boats of all shapes and sizes, from multiple manufacturers and sailing under the flags of 22 different nations. The range of boats is as ecclectic as the crews on board with examples of almost every kind of ocean cruising boat available represented amongst the ARC 2014 fleet. ... [more]  

The notice of race has been released for the Antigua 2 Falmouth 2015 event, run by Sailing Rallies. Due to demand from boats at the end of the Caribbean sailing season wishing to return to the UK, this new event has been launched to give sailors a suitable high quality event. ... [more]  

Oceans of Hope, with a working crew of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), has arrived in New York City, USA, on the latest leg of the 33,000-nautical mile global voyage. During the six-day stopover Oceans of Hope will be berthed at North Cove Marina, in lower Manhattan and people with MS will be invited to take part in two days of sailing on the 14th and 15th of November. ... [more]  

Spirit of Tradition by Terri Hodgson
The prospective new owner of the old Bluenose 24 had two objectives to satisfy in the hunt for his new yacht: the boat had to be beautiful and classic AND it would serve as an ornamental anchor in front of his Muskoka cottage. Stuart Cotrelle came to Gordon Laco, a friend, sailor and supplier of finer boat hardware and accessories, with performance specifications of the yacht he wanted to buy ... [more]  

A rare 'Medicane', a hybrid storm with characteristics of both a tropical storm and an extratropical storm, formed over the South Central Mediterranean Sea on Friday and moved over the island of Malta, bringing them tropical storm-like conditions. ... [more]  

'Lighter than we expected' was the comment on the winds today for leg one of the ARC+ Cape Verde route. This has been in complete contrast to the first 24 hours which, as usual was lively as boats headed passed the Canary Islands wind acceleration zone. ... [more]  

I didn’t talk to my husband for two days when his peculiar answers to my naïve nautical questions reached my bewildered ears. Back then, as a mere fledgling to sailing, my raw researching met brutal honesty. Seeking a sailboat and home, to travel the planet, I tried to grasp the financials and what, exactly, was I letting myself in for. ... [more]  

Following yesterday’s departure of the ARC+ fleet, the ARC schedule continues today in Las Palmas, with a busy day of check ins and plenty of crews visiting the ARC Office and Shop in the marina. The first ARC Sundowner takes place this evening at Federacion de Vela from 18:30 and promises to be a lively evening as many crews come together for the first time. ... [more]  

Thanks to a late start and slow progress at sea in the Caribbean 1500, the Yellowshirt team here in Nanny Cay has had time to explore Tortola more than usual. Prior to our hike up the gut yesterday, Mia and I had an opportunity to take a taxi into Road Town for a walk around and a visit to the smoothie guy. ... [more]  

Crystal Blues had health issues, with 'something' around the propeller. So after a few days of rest and recuperation in Penang, I dived on the propeller and removed an indecent chunk of rope. What a pain - visibility in the marina was less than 12 inches, and cutting it away was a slow process. I'm still amazed that we managed to maneuver the boat into the berth with this around the propeller. ... [more]  

The second edition ARC+ Cape Verde set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Sunday 9 November, bound for Mindelo in the Cape Verde Islands. A brisk northerly wind provided near perfect sailing, with just a one metre swell making it a little rock and roll for some. The 51 boat fleet are set to enjoy some textbook tradewind sailing for the first part of their Atlantic crossing. ... [more]  

Destination: Balmy Brentwood Bay and peaceful Tod Inlet
Safety and enjoyment order of the day in Marina Lanzarote
First ARC Bahamas boats make landfall in the Caribbean
First arrivals of World ARC fleet enter Richard’s Bay, South Africa
No room for complacency in Gulf of Guinea
250 kilos of cocaine seized from UK-bound yacht in joint operation
North American Rally to Caribbean - Greater than the sum of its parts
New Rayglass ProJet on duty at Auckland Airport
Caribbean 1500 fleet are getting their sea legs
The reliability of C-Map electronic charts in the Arctic
Know your charts and sail clear of deadly rocks and reefs!
ARC+ Seminars Programme commences
Ride of a Lifetime: PWC Adventure on the Ottawa River Waterway
World ARC - Sailing south of Madagascar to Richard's Bay, South Africa
25th Caribbean 1500 heads to sea
29th Atlantic Rally for Cruisers ready to set sail
New study finds oceans arrived early to earth
World Cruising Club’s second ARC+ event off to a great
Caribbean 1500 - More German Bier and the start of the Seminar Program
A light on the horizon
Could this be the knot that never fails?   
Clock running on countdown to the 25th Caribbean 1500   
San Juan Island, an engaging destination   
Cowes breakwater construction programme - Phase completion imminent   
Where is the Deepwater Horizon oil?   
OceansWatch hard at work in the Solomon Islands   
Do you have the proper fire extinguisher onboard?   
This low cost 'line saver' could save your yacht!   
The Christmas Caribbean Rally is on its way!   
Coral-Current Connections   
Caribbean 1500 - German Bier, trick-or-treat and safety checks   
Oceans of Hope - A Sailing Sclerosis Project   
The very useful skill of buoy hopping   
A warm welcome to La Réunion for the World ARC fleet   
Good Samaritans rescue woman who drove car off boat ramp   
Can you hear me? Mobile phone vs. VHF radio   
World ARC fleet explores Mauritius   
METS names DAME Award nominees   
German sailors freed by Philippine militants   
Grand opening for new Marina Lanzarote   


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 CRU NH
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT