27 May 2014

Flag Etiquette for Boats

With the holidays approaching, many American will want to show their patriotism by flying the flag. Although most people are aware of the rules for flag etiquette on land, there is a special set of rules for flying the flag on a boat.

The national flag should fly above all other flags and should fly from 8:00am to sunset. At sunset, the flag should be lowered and stored. If you will be away from the boat at sunset, the flag should be lowered and stored before you leave so that the flag is not flown in the dark.

The national flag should always be flown in a position of honor. The national flag is raised before any other flag and is lowered after all other flags have been lowered. The national flag is hung from the gaff or from the stern of the vessel if there is no gaff. 

United States National Ensign – This is also known as “Old Glory” and is flown from the peak of the gaff or flagstaff of the boat stern. The nationality of the ensign depends on where the boat is registered not the nationality of the owner. For example, a British citizen who owns a ship registered in the United States would fly the Stars and Stripes not the Union Jack.

The U.S. Yacht Ensign – This flag is similar to the early American flag. It has a circle of thirteen stars on a blue canton but has an anchor entwined with a rope at its center. This flag can be flown in place of the U.S. ensign except in foreign waters where flying the U.S. ensign is mandatory.

The Q flag – When entering a foreign port, a yellow “Q” or quarantine flag may be flown. This shows that the boat is requesting clearance to enter. Some countries require the Q flag until the vessel has received permission to berth. 

Other flags – The burgee or skipper’s flag representing his or her yacht club or sailing organization may be flown day or night.

Personal flag – The operator of a water craft may have a personal flag of any design which may be flown day or night.

Although the flag may be flown in inclement weather, the rules state that the flag must be waterproof or designed for bad weather. There is a good selection of American made flags from FlagStoreUSA.com that are available in nylon and synthetic blends that can withstand bad weather and allow you to fly the stars and stripes with pride in any weather.

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