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Old 04-12-2008
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Flag etiquette queries

My vessel is registered as Canadian. Private sailing vessels in Canada fly the national flag, the familiar red and white Maple Leaf at either the stern or from a pigstick run up to the masthead. Canada has no specific ensign for civilians, although were I a member of the Armed Forces, I might conceivably be able to fly those flags, which have a Maple Leaf as a canton in the same place as the Union Flag of Great Britain (the "Union JacK").

The Union Jack is not the national flag of Great Britain. It is the personal flag of the Queen. The usual flag flown by private British owned yachts is the Red Ensign, a plain red flag with the Union Jack in the upper left canton.

So here are my questions:

When flying a courtesy flag in British waters or territories, do I hoist up to the starboard spreader a Union Jack or a Red Ensign? Or would I be insufferably cheeky (and possibly inadvertently insulting) if I hoisted a St. George's Cross in English ports, a St. Andrew's in Scottish, a Welsh Red Dragon in Cardiff, and God knows what in Ulster?

Secondly, I hold dual British/Canadian citizenship. Can I fly the Red Ensign from the boat's stern, or is its status as a Canadian registered vessel render the owner's citizenship moot?

Thirdly, when I go to renew my British citizenship, I won't get the big old pasteboard British model, but the small, chic, red European Union one with "Britain" in brackets somewhere. Would I in any situation fly the EU "ring of stars" flag as a courtesy flag.

Lastly, does anyone run out the yellow "Q" flag anymore? When it comes to sextants, I'm the old traditionalist...but when it comes to flag signals, I can think of far better uses for the money and the space than to haul a signal flag locker around the world.

Thanks in advance for the replies, hopefully written from informed experience.
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