Flags, Burgees, Ensigns, etc. - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 23 Old 11-14-2006 Thread Starter
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Flags, Burgees, Ensigns, etc.

What are the "rules" for flags on sailboats? If you're flying National Colors, Yacht club colors, etc. which one goes where, where should they never be put, when is it proper to fly them and when is it not?

I'm fairly new at this and I don't know any place else to get this information. Any information would be appreciated.

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post #2 of 23 Old 11-14-2006
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Burgees, and Yacht club flags, usually under the starboard spreader.
Colors, on a staff on the transom or about 2/3 of the way up the backstay.

Others please correct me if I am wrong.
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post #3 of 23 Old 11-14-2006
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If you check out a copy of Chapman's "Piloting, Seamanship and Small Boat Handling" aka "Chapman's" that's been a bible of nautical information for decades. There should still be a section on flag etiquette in it.

Often tradition is compromised for reality, i.e. where you have or can rig the holders and how much effort you are willing to put into that.

Put "nautical flag etiquette" into your favorite search engine, and you'll get more immediate gratification. But if you've never read Chapman's, ask you library to bring it in for you.
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post #4 of 23 Old 11-14-2006 Thread Starter
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Great! I appreciate the info. I've seen the book in Books a Bazillion but I haven't picked it up yet.
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post #5 of 23 Old 11-22-2006
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post #6 of 23 Old 11-22-2006
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These have all been excellent replies. I would just like to add that, no matter how proud you are, State flags are really not appropriate; and also that nothing screams "I'm a drunk moron" louder than a Pirate Flag!
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post #7 of 23 Old 11-22-2006
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I like pirate flags. As I told the magistrate, "Yer honor, she were flying the Jolly Roger and we carry Letters of Marque and Reprisal. We was full legal and entitled to board 'er and sink 'er, an whut we did with the crew is none a anyone's business beyond that."

Seeing the picture with the ensign reminds me of my own pet peeve about ensigns on boats: Most of the cheap jingoists that fly them cheap out on the size of the pole, so the ensign hangs down and touches the deck or railing when there's no breeze. And THAT simply isn't right. If you can't fly it clean and clear, and don't replace it when it is tattered, just don't bother to fly it at all. That's less disrespectful.
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post #8 of 23 Old 11-22-2006
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Jolly Roger vs Coast Guard

Been a good many years back, but I witnessed the US Coast Guard 30-footer from Wrightsville Beach station board and cite a 35' Pearson for flying the pirate flag. Oh yeah, they also carried out a full inspection and gigged the skipper for a few other violations. Maybe Jimmy Buffett could get away with it, but I'm not tryin'!
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post #9 of 23 Old 11-22-2006
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The last I heard from a friend of mine who has been boating a while sad that you could fly one but it had to be upside down or backwards so they knew it wasn't real. I am a bit cautious on believing that one. Anyone hear something similar or any truth to it?
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post #10 of 23 Old 11-22-2006
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Its never been a problem on the Great Lakes. (Everybody does it)

Different rules apply maybe in costal or international waters?
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