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Old 05-18-2016, 08:07 AM   #1
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Flag Etiquette/Rules

From Active Captain's email this morning, thought there might be interest.

The one thing I see quite regularly around here is the Bahamian courtesy flag flown all the time, sort of a "look where I've been" sign.

-----------------------------------------------

Nearly every cruising boat on the water flies one or more flags. But get
into a discussion about flag etiquette and rules, and no one can seem to
agree on the full set of what's right and what's wrong.

So we'll take it on over the summer. We'll research the generally
accepted practices and bring a couple of topics into the discussion.
Note that we're going to present the findings for recreational boats.
Military, government, or special use boats might well have different
sets of rules and accepted practices.

For this first part, we'll discuss the rules surrounding national and
courtesy flags, and flag sizes.

Courtesy and national flags

Rule 1. There are no real rules. There are customs and some flag
etiquette rules that have been adapted for boats. However, when visiting
another country, make sure there are no laws about flying courtesy flags
because boaters have been known to receive fines. It is often an insult
to fly a courtesy flag of another country incorrectly.

2. A vessel's national flag is flown from the stern.

3. If not prohibited, you can fly another location flag (state, province,
territory) at the main masthead in place of any private, yacht club, or
officer's flag. On a mastless boat, a state flag flies from either the bow
or radio antenna.

4. Only the national flag should be at the stern. It is considered a
place of honor for the vessel's national flag. Never put any other flag
there.

5. Do not fly a courtesy flag (a small flag of the country you're
visiting) until your vessel has been properly cleared by customs and
immigration. Until clearance is complete, fly the yellow Q (quarantine)
flag.

6. On a powerboat without a mast, the courtesy flag replaces any flag
that is normally flown at the bow.

7. On a powerboat with a mast and spreaders, the courtesy flag is flown
at the starboard spreader. On a powerboat with two-masts, the courtesy
flag is flown from the starboard spreader of the forward mast.

8. On a sailboat, the courtesy flag is flown at the starboard spreader.
On sailboats with more than one mast, the courtesy flag is flown from
the starboard spreader of the forward mast.

9. Don't fly a foreign courtesy flag after you return to your home
country.


Flag sizing

These are not well agreed upon. Chapman's suggests the following:

1. The national flag at the stern of your boat should be one inch long
for every foot of overall vessel length rounded up to a normally
available size.

2. Other flags (club burgees, private signals, courtesy flags) should
be one-half inch long for every foot of overall vessel length.


Another competing sizing suggests:

1. Boats up to 50 feet in length should use a 16 x 24 inch national
flag and 12 x 18 inch courtesy flags.

2. For every 25 additional feet in length, increase the size by one
standard size.


Flags give your boat some identity and even add some beauty. We'll
continue with some of the other accepted rules in future segments.
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Old 05-18-2016, 08:14 AM   #2
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See it all over. Whenever I do I think of Jeff foxworthy's here's your sign joke and steer way clear.


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Old 05-18-2016, 08:31 AM   #3
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Greetings,
The thing that burns my biscuits is those "cutesy" or novelty flags.



My BIGGEST gripe is pirate flags and tattered national flags, neither of which have any place on any vessel.
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Old 05-18-2016, 08:35 AM   #4
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Unless you are really a pirate.
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Old 05-18-2016, 08:47 AM   #5
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Unless you are really a pirate.
Arrrrrr
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Old 05-18-2016, 08:54 AM   #6
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The booze hound flags are worth their weight in gold for identifying boats to be anchored near or avoided at all cost, depending upon how you enjoy your boating.
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Old 05-18-2016, 09:09 AM   #7
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Hey, no fair. I have a happy hour flag!

Dressed a few weeks ago. The national flag had to go on an antennae since we had broken out stern flag pole the weekend before launching the tender off the back deck. Below that is the state flag, and on the other antennae the club burgee above my happy hour flag. But both below old Glory. The DeFever club burgee is on on the bow.


I also have a full set of signal flags - I didn't use those as I hadn't prepared them previously and it takes a while to get them affixed in the recommended order for dressing the boat. Since I doubt I would be using them as signal flags per se I will probably prepare them for dressing and leave them that way.
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Old 05-18-2016, 09:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cafesport View Post
See it all over. Whenever I do I think of Jeff foxworthy's here's your sign joke and steer way clear.
Not to split hairs here, but that is ACTUALLY Bill Engvall's gag. :-)
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Old 05-18-2016, 12:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RT Firefly View Post
Greetings,
The thing that burns my biscuits is those "cutesy" or novelty flags.



My BIGGEST gripe is pirate flags and tattered national flags, neither of which have any place on any vessel.

Ditto on all counts. Ratty national flags top the list...a hallmark of many cruising boats (listen up loopers).
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Old 05-18-2016, 12:41 PM   #10
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Not to split hairs here, but that is ACTUALLY Bill Engvall's gag. :-)
Yup!



I now have a "cutesy" windsock in lieu of flag just to irritate you purists. It's more steady and a better wind direction indicator than a flag and it's quiet so it can remain up all night without causing a racket in the fwd stateroom. It'll also come in handy when I buy that helicopter or drone.



I also fly a large American flag from my radar mast. It's a flag that my daughter arranged to have hoisted over the US Capitol on the day I retired.



We've been known to steal and abuse yacht club burgees when the members' behavior warrants attention.

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Old 05-18-2016, 12:44 PM   #11
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The Albin-25 was built with a single stick atop the house for the forward white nav light and the elec horn. Being a believer in courtesy flags and yacht club burgees, I added a short yard at the top which enables us to fly a pair of flags, burgees, or pennants. If the starboard pennant flaps too close and loudly to my ear when standing at the helm, I tuck the outer edge so it's quiet while underway.

At a local hospital "Safety Day" this weekend where our Rockford Power Squadron will participate with my Albin being the focal point of our lifejacket exhibit, the Du NORD will have my Commandant's pennant starboard and our Rockford PS pennant to Port, with the US Flag astern, all correctly sized according to the OP above.
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Old 05-18-2016, 01:47 PM   #12
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And please, don't forget to take Old Glory down at sunset, or follow the lead of a Navy ship, should there be one in port.

Try to follow Chapman pretty close, although in port the martini flag goes up if I'm in the home marina as a sign to the freeloaders that the bar is open. ;-)
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Old 05-18-2016, 02:09 PM   #13
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Old 05-18-2016, 02:12 PM   #14
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I prefer taking it down..... gets me out of bed in the morning. ;-)
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Old 05-18-2016, 02:30 PM   #15
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Coming down the ICW one year I saw a US Navy tug coming.

With the ensign on the back stay I lowered it in salute.

As the boats passed a Chief noticed the dipped ensign , blew a whistle and they came to attention and returned the salute.

Some folks still knew the rules. 1975
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Old 05-18-2016, 02:53 PM   #16
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Used to do that back in Britain on our sail boat. Also applicable to saluting foreign flagged military vessels.

BTW a naval vessel will never salute a civilian vessel, but will return the salute if one is given.

Another little tidbit. The US Navy never dips it's flag first, ever, to another military or civilian vessel. But will do so in response to one.
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Old 05-18-2016, 03:59 PM   #17
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Every day, our yacht club asks that everyone in the dining room stand and face the flagpole for the lowering of the American flag at sundown.
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Old 05-18-2016, 04:19 PM   #18
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Every day, our yacht club asks that everyone in the dining room stand and face the flagpole for the lowering of the American flag at sundown.
Same at the club my parents were at, with the addition of the firing of the canon and all of it followed by the consumption of a "Commodore Montezuma".
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Old 05-18-2016, 05:01 PM   #19
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Navy and USCG vessels half mast the colors to honor Gen. George Washingtons tomb at Mount Vernon near the Potomac river along with other honors spelled out in Navy Regs.
I would do the same if ever we cruise the Potomac.
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Old 05-18-2016, 06:43 PM   #20
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Favorite flag; but I don't fly it enough.

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