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Flag Etiquette

By webmaster last modified Jan 23, 2015 04:03 PM

Published: 2002-08-18 18:20:00

Although not all countries insist on it, in theory the Q flag should be flown as soon as the yacht has entered territorial waters to signal the intention of requesting pratique. This should be done when entering the 12 mile limit. In this way, one cannot be accused of trying to slip in unnoticed and in fact in some countries yachts have got into trouble for not hoisting the Q flag until they were in port. Also to avoid any misunderstandings, it is advisable to try to contact the authorities on VHF radio, especially in those countries which do not readily welcome yachts.

The courtesy flag should also be flown once the boat enters a nation's territorial waters. The flag should be flown from the starboard spreader in a position above any other flag. The courtesy flag should be in a good state and of reasonable size as some officials take offence at yachts that fly a torn or tiny flag. In some dependencies or autonomous regions, such as the Canaries , Azores , French Polynesia , or Corsica, it is appreciated if the regional flag is flown together, but below, that of the metropolitan power. Burgees, house flags and courtesy flags as well as ensigns should be lowered at sunset or 2100, whichever is earlier, and hoisted at 0800 in summer and 0900 in winter. It is particularly important to observe this in Scandinavian countries, where people are extremely flag conscious. The courtesy flags of the countries listed in this book are illustrated on the end papers.

The ship should be dressed overall on national days in countries visited. Ships should only be dressed when at anchor or in harbour. Although not essential, and many people are not even aware of it, there is a correct order in which to fly the code signals if the yacht is dressed from bow to stern. This order has been designed to give an interesting variety of both colour and shapes. The correct order, starting from the bow, is:

E Q p3 G p8 Z p4 W p6 P p1 1 CODE T Y B X 1st H 3rd D F 2nd U A O M R p2 J p0 N p9 K p7 V p5 L C S. If the vessel is two masted, the line between the two masts starts with Y and ends with O.