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MartyS

Flag Courtesy and Associated Tidbits

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Flag Courtesy and Associated Tidbits

 

I thought I would post something on flag courtesy as practiced by vessels. I am not going into every facet of it. I intend to address only what would usually be practiced, by a vessel similar to a Lagoon 55.

 

Speaking generally, flags are hoisted at 8:00 AM and lowered at sunset.

 

A Lagoon 55, such as CJ has posted pictures of; I would define as single masted vessel, with single yard (or spreader). For the purposes of this post, I am going to assume the vessel is registered in the United States. This means the Lagoon 55 would be classified as a United States Flagged Vessel. The yard is divided into: a Starboard Yardarm and a Port Yardarm.

 

When an American Flagged vessel is: anchored, moored or tied up to a pier, the National Ensign should be flown from the flagstaff, which located at the stern. This is considered to be the “Place of Honor,” aboard a vessel.

 

When the vessel is under way, the Ensign is lowered from the flagstaff and hoisted to the gaff. A gaff is diagonal spar projecting aft from the mast.

 

Please do not refer to the lowering of the National Ensign as “striking.” That term has definitely a different meaning.

 

When a vessel is under way, in the Territorial waters of another country, the flag of the host country should be hoisted, as a courtesy, to the starboard yard.

 

Once the vessel has anchored, moored or tied up to a pier, the National Ensign is lowered from the gaff and hoisted on the flagstaff. The courtesy flag remains hoisted to the starboard yard. Once the vessel has gotten under way, and departs those Territorial waters, the courtesy flag should be lowered and secured

 

The Captain of a vessel would modify these procedures, to take into account existing conditions. What also needs to be considered is, the construction and/or rigging of the vessel he commands.

 

A vessel is considered to be under way when it is not anchored, moored or, to quote a former student of mine “Stuck in the mud.” (Aground)

 

Other flags or pennants may be flown from the yards as appropriate: the Victor flag (I require assistance), Quebec flag (Quarantine) or even the Bravo flag (Explosives aboard). A vessel engaged in diving operations may display the Diving flag.

 

A vessel, which is anchored, should display an Anchoring Ball hoisted in the area of the bow. It is a black circular device hoisted near the bow of a vessel, well clear of the foredeck. At night, a single while light replaces it.

 

BTW: a qualified member of the United States Coast Guard, for inspection purposes, may board a United States Flagged Vessel. This boarding may be initiated in United States Territorial Waters or in international waters.

 

A member of the United States Coast Guard, who is qualified as a Boarding Officer, has awesome powers of search and seizure. When operating in his official capacity, he is not limited by Probable Cause. Nor does he need a search warrant. All that is required is for him to identify himself to the commander of a vessel. He must then inform the individual, “I am coming aboard your vessel to conduct an inspection.” Once he has done so, there are very few limitations, governing what he may inquire into or inspect. Should he determine there is a violation of the laws of the United States, the Boarding Officer may seize the vessel.

 

An individual who is in charge of a vessel is generally referred to and addressed as Captain. He is responsible for the vessel’s operations. He is also answerable for the actions of all aboard. i.e.: the captain of a craft is asleep in his cabin. Another, qualified person is conning the vessel and runs aground. The captain is still held responsible.

 

Writing about courtesy flags brought something to mind, The USS WINSTON S. CHURCHILL (DDG81). Presently, The Churchill is the only U.S. Naval Warship to permanently fly a foreign ensign. The Royal Navy’s White Ensign is flown in addition to the Stars and Stripes.

 

My knowledge and experience of crewing on or being the commander of a vessel is limited to vessels less than sixty feel in length. All of these have been mono hulled, power vessels. (Except for some rowboats I have been aboard.) My last experience was during the 1970s. Since then I have resided approximately 250 miles from salt water. One advantage is, I do not generally concern myself about hurricanes. By the time they reach me, they are mostly rain, which the local farmers love.

 

I have been informed “Farmers never believe there’s to much rain.” Shortly after relocating to my present abode, an acquaintance, I had made, explained this to me. He said, “If farmers needed to use a rowboat to grease their windmills, they wouldn’t complain. I decided desecration might be the better part of valor. I did not inquire as to how farmers felt about floods.

 

There are many advantages gained by living where I do. Since I arrived, there has only been one sizable snowstorm. We joking refer to it as, “The Blizzard of “85.” One benefit I enjoy. The underside of my truck doesn’t rust out. No salt spread on the highways and too far from the coast, for salt-water to contribute to the situation.

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Flag Courtesy and Associated Tidbits

 

 

Well there is

The Law

Recommended Practice (Etiquette)

General Practice

 

"Speaking generally, flags are hoisted at 8:00 AM and lowered at sunset."

 

Etiquette agrees

In most small yachts flags are left flying all the time. To avoid wear and tear ensigns are sometimes taken down after twilight and flown when the skipper gets up in the morning. Also when you leave a yacht you normally take the ensign down.

I do remember being in a small channel island harbour when a topsail schooner sail training ship woke up the harbour at 8.00. Half the yachts who had arrived during the early hours, did not appreciate it, and the following morning saw the colour party being drenched.

Not having your ensign and courtesy flags flying during daylight in some countries is illegal, and have in the past resulted in fines(Greek Islands).

 

 

"When an American Flagged vessel is: anchored, moored or tied up to a pier, the National Ensign should be flown from the flagstaff, which located at the stern. This is considered to be the “Place of Honor,” aboard a vessel. "

 

Although the law may not allow it, Yachts in US waters do fly the Yacht Ensign. Also other countries may have special yacht ensigns (eg http://www.flags.net/UNKG14.htm )

 

 

"A Lagoon 55, such as CJ has posted pictures of; I would define as single masted vessel, with single yard (or spreader). For the purposes of this post, I am going to assume the vessel is registered in the United States. This means the Lagoon 55 would be classified as a United States Flagged Vessel. The yard is divided into: a Starboard Yardarm and a Port Yardarm."

 

Atlantis and Kookaburra have two or more set of spreaders. The lower set is generally used for flags but higher placed spreaders are sometimes used.

 

 

"When the vessel is under way, the Ensign is lowered from the flagstaff and hoisted to the gaff. A gaff is diagonal spar projecting aft from the mast. "

 

Although, I have been able to sail aboard gaff cutters/sloops/yawls/ketch,schooners, 99.99% of yachts are five string bermuda sloops, and most sailors do not know what a gaff is. And the ensign is always flown from the stern flagstaff, and I have had to explain to Gaff boat owners how to rig the ensign on the gaff.

 

 

"When a vessel is under way, in the Territorial waters of another country, the flag of the host country should be hoisted, as a courtesy, to the starboard yard."

 

Every country has different laws and I would recommend that those laws should be consulted as it could lead to fines. I should point out that some areas, you have to fly two courtesy flags(country and region) by law (Madeira) and other places like Brittainy, where it is highly recommended for safety reasons to fly the Bretton Flag.

 

 

"A vessel, which is anchored, should display an Anchoring Ball hoisted in the area of the bow. It is a black circular device hoisted near the bow of a vessel, well clear of the foredeck. At night, a single while light replaces it. "

 

Depends where you anchor, if it is on a recognised mooring or in a quiet anchorage a black ball or single white light is not used. Normally if you run aground hoisting the right signal or light is the last thing you want to do.

 

 

"BTW: a qualified member of the United States Coast Guard, for inspection purposes, may board a United States Flagged Vessel. This boarding may be initiated in United States Territorial Waters or in international waters."

 

Custom Cutters through out the world have huge powers which extend beyond Home waters, and some countries have extend rights over non national boats outside home waters.

 

 

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Hi Red,

 

I find your post interesting. I would like to make a few points.

 

I believe I clearly stated my level of experience is limited to power vessels. I have only made one international voyage. It was of some length. I started on the west coast and arrived in Yokohama. The vessel left there and the next port of call was Inchon. I do not remember the name of the Troopship. I do recall it was named after some general and was operated by MSTS. I guess you could classify me as a passenger. I really felt more like cargo. Eighteen months later my tour of duty finished. Lucky for me a family emergency arose and I was returned stateside by air. What little knowledge I have regarding sailing vessels I learned from reading. This story has taught me quite a bit.

 

I thought I clearly stated I was referring to a United States Flagged Vessel. I apologize for not making myself clearer.

 

Flag Courtesy can be a confusing subject. All I addressed, I believe, was the situations touched on in this story. CJ did explain the necessity of basic flag courtesy. I limited myself to the flags mentioned, so far, in the tale. I will admit to interjecting the Baker flag. I did that with tongue in cheek. After all, if Sergeant Gonzales and Bridget are correct, maybe the alleged Ares should have been flying it.

 

I am well aware of what some boat operators fly on their vessels. I have even seen a woman’s bra streaming from a flagstaff. I think all I did was state what I believed should be done. The main reason I listed the times is simple. I was attempting to indicate, national ensigns should not be flown during the nighttime hours. Privately owned vessels are often secured and remain unattended for lengthy periods. During these times it would not be expected flags be flown. Vessels anchored or moored in a designated anchorage would not display an anchoring signal.

 

A long time ago I watched while a discussion was taking place between I believe a couple of yachters. The basic bone of contention was the display of US Yacht flag, the US Power Squadron and I don’t know what other flags. It ended when one of the participants used a chair, over the head of his adversary. This was enough to convince me to keep off this subject with other vessel operators. I decided at that time, I would comply with the rules as published. What someone else did was not my concern.

 

Unfortunately there is only one photograph, of the many posted on the Atlantis page, which shows the entire mast. I was only able to make out one spreader. There is another photo, taken from abaft the stern looking forward. This shows a spreader with flags displayed. It appeared, to me, to be the one spreader I could make out in the photograph I used as my guide. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention.

 

I have learned many things reading this story. Yes, one thing that shocked me the most appears in Chapter 14. Trevor was instructing Joel about the bouyage system used in the Med. I read this and my first reaction was, Whoa!!!, No!!! It is Red, Right Returning. I would like to think that I have learned one thing in my life. That is to “Check the facts.” I hit Google and learned that what I had learned in my past did not necessarily hold true for other countries.

 

As you did point out, what is supposed to be done regarding Flag Courtesy, is not necessarily what people do. I recall what an instructor told a class I was took a long time ago. The purpose of the course was to teach us, how to present information to students. It covered many things, such as the use of training aids, etc. He told us, it is your responsibility to present the facts and the correct way to do something. If your students demonstrate they have learned the correct way to handle a situation, you have done your job. It is not your responsibility when they go out and fail to follow what they have been taught. I recall seeing a former student of mine, fueling up a vessel, with what appeared to be a cigarette, hanging in his mouth. What did I do? I reversed course and got the hell out of there. My recollection is he was fueling a16 foot Boston Whaler and he appeared to be alone. If I had attempted to interfere with his actions, I would be standing into danger and risking my vessel and those aboard with me.

 

I doubt I will be making any voyages in the course of my remaining years. I also doubt I will ever make my 139th parachute jump. These activities I look back on with pleasure. They are part of my personal history and experiences. I do however, still travel, by vehicle. Before I enter into another state, I definitely make myself aware of the laws, which might effect me, during my time in that state. If I were to make a voyage, I would certainly, as you recommended, check the appropriate laws regarding Flag Courtesy, among other things. Then I would go by the book. I have found this is best in life.

 

Marty

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The rules are sure complex. :)

 

Just as an aside, on thing I do in Circumnavigation is mention a procedure once (Such as the light Atlantis was displaying when at anchor in Santorini, or the courtesy flags issue whn she arrived in the Azores) and then omit it from then on (with perhaps an occasional mention). It's the best way I can think of to handle an awkward situation: if I fully described the arrival procedures in every port of call, there would be a lot of repetition. So, I leave it for the reader to assume that the procedures, once shown, are occurring. (Well, not for the arrival in Australia... Emergencies trump procedure. :))

 

You also both raise a very good point; not everyone follows procedures, especially this that are dictated by custom rather than law.

 

And Red... you made my jaw drop when you said most sailors don't know what a gaff is! That's mind-boggling, and not in a good way! Yipes! :blink:

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Th

 

And Red... you made my jaw drop when you said most sailors don't know what a gaff is! That's mind-boggling, and not in a good way! Yipes! :blink:

 

And are you sure you have not made any?

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And are you sure you have not made any?

 

Oh, I always make gaffs. It goes with my other skill, putting my foot in my mouth. :)

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Oh, I always make gaffs. It goes with my other skill, putting my foot in my mouth. :)

And you just made one here. Don't you mean hoof?

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