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dm567 01-01-2007 12:54 PM

Display US Flag on shrouds
Does anyone know the etiquette of displaying the US Flag on a boat?

I'd like to hang one of those radar reflecting US Flags if I can leave it permanently.


PBzeer 01-01-2007 01:11 PM

You might want to read this Sailnet article, and if you type in flag etiquette in the search box on the opening page, you'll find some others as well.

Tartan34C 01-01-2007 01:38 PM

I think the right thing is to fly the US flag, not the Yacht Ensign 2/3 of the way up the leach of the aftmost sail unless you are gaff rigged then host to the peak of the gaff when sailing during daylight hours. If under power then host the US flag on a staff at the stern during daylight hours. And you should show your colors while entering a foreign harbor at all hours of the day at the proper pace along with the ensign of the host country at the starboard spreader.

The Yacht Ensign is really a signal and was used to indicate a US yacht not needing the service of customs when entering a harbor. Of course the use has changed over the years but you should stick to the US flag if you are sailing outside the US and use the Yacht Ensign in home waters if you like it.
All the best,
Robert Gainer

TXS-ALAMO 01-03-2007 02:54 PM

Flying the US flag on a spreader might confuse the viewer as to the nationality of the yacht and the country to which it is entering its waters. The national ensign should always be displayed at the stern on a pole or as Tartan34c suggests. In the first Gulf War, an American yachtsman was afraid of deadly results to fly the US flag while cruising the Red Sea to the Suez. So, he flew the Texas flag instead. He reports that he got salutes from every oil platform he passed! Not exactly illegal, but certainly prudent!

hellosailor 01-03-2007 02:58 PM

In terms of etiquette? "Permanently" is simply wrong. Correct flag etiquette means raising it in the morning and lowering it in the evening, as well as during inclement weather. Or while engaged in battle, and a few other unusual circumstances.<G>

The modern habit of flying a flag 24x7, lighted at night or not, and just letting it shred in the wind, to me in disrespectful jingoism, not to be confused with flying a flag. If you want it to be there "always" then you paint it on the mast or hull--rather than flying one.

dm567 01-03-2007 07:51 PM

Thats what I I thought. You must lower it at night. Not a good idea for a radar flag. I saw the advertisement in the back of a boating magazine.

jones2r 01-03-2007 10:50 PM

"...use the Yacht Ensign in home waters if you like it."

My understanding is that a CG documented pleasure vessel must fly the yacht ensign in home waters.

Yamsailor 01-03-2007 10:56 PM

Flying the American flag off the the leach of the sail while under sail or off the stern of the boat under power is correct. When entering a foreign country and before clearing immigration and customs you must fly the "Q" (For Quarantine) on the starboard spreader. Upon clearing immigration and customs, you lower the "Q" flag and raise the flag of the host country. DO NOT FLY THE HOST COUNTRY FLAG BEFORE CLEARING THEIR IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS.

GordMay 01-04-2007 06:21 AM

Lowering the flag, during battle, indicates surrender.

bubb2 01-04-2007 07:26 AM


Originally Posted by jones2r
"...use the Yacht Ensign in home waters if you like it."

My understanding is that a CG documented pleasure vessel must fly the yacht ensign in home waters.

An CG documented vessel is required to fly the 50 star flag not the yacht ensign. The yacht ensign is reserved for recreational vessels. The rule was instituted years ago as an way for the Coast Guard to distinguish between boats engaged in trade and pleasure crafts. Today it carries over to all documented vessels regardless of size or use of the vessel.

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