Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Vancouver Island
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The Q flag is not generally used here in the northwest between Canada and the US simply because so many people sail between the two daily. You can bet that someone arriving in Neah Bay from Japan will be flying one if they haven't pre-arranged customs, etc.
The flag itself is a traditional thing, a holdover from the days when radios didn't exist or didn't work very well. The flags are still used but not always required by law. many times boats approaching foreign countries will not have arranged their arrival clearances and that is what the flag indicates.
The large yellow buoy off the Victoria waterfront (VH) is called the quarantine buoy for a reason. Those freighters you see anchored on Constance Bank aren't there because they like the view. They are awaiting clearance. Most clearances are done by Tofino traffic as the big ships approach Juan de Fuca. Listen to the pre-entry check list they go through on VHF when you are out sailing, that is if you actually get out towards the real ocean anytime.
Around here, most US flagged vessels fly a courtesy flag. Those skippers that don't are just ignorant.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
Shakespeare, Julius Caesar IV, iii, 217