Friday, April 6, 2018

Flags - Let them Fly

Today we talk a little bit about Flags.
There is a complicated and confusing number of Flags associated with boat communication. Flags to identify boats, flags to terrify boats, flags to spell out words.
Because we can't just use our LETTERS to spell out WORDS.
Or our RADIO.

This flag is pretty clear:

The Jolly Roger - flown by pirates from the 1700's, in various styles, customized to their preference. It's rumored that the pirate Calico Jack Rackham was the original designer. 
It was the first flag our wooden boat flew.

One day we hope to fly this flag:

The Yellow Jack or 'Q' flag was once flown by ships to indicate that no one on board suffered from plague or cholera.
Good thing Calico Jack didn't design this one. It would probably have had a colon on it. 
Now it indicates a boat requesting clearance into a foreign port.
Here is an example:
Say we rent a boat in Tortola, BVI.
The boat is licensed in the BVI:
Taken on Nanny Cay. It's possible that the sailboat in the distance is our lesson boat - an IC24, see 'I' on April 10. That would be the lesson boat I should have been on but... - See 'D', from April 4.
So, it flies the Flag of Tortola.
As Americans, we have been cleared through immigration at the airport.
So out of courtesy, we could fly a small American flag on the port spreader of the mast, but not higher than the Tortola flag.
Now lets sail to St. John, just across the way.
Upon entering the port, we would need to raise the yellow flag as our boat is not US registered.
Even though we are.
Once cleared by the harbor master, we take down the yellow flag and raise a US flag in its place.
Oh, and these flags are only flown between 8am and sunset.
Given my issues with crossing borders I can only imagine how this would actually go down.*

Consequently, this is pretty much the only flag we are currently flying:
The Fin Flag
It's a Parrothead thing....
And then there's this guy:
How I really hope his name is Jack.
Playing bagpipes at noon near The Indians and Norman Island, BVI
ps-Norman Island is thought to be the inspiration for Treasure Island...

I don't believe there is a flag for that.

Come back tomorrow for G - might be Galley. Might be Green Can. Which isn't found in the Galley.

And for more A to Z fun, click on the link below:

*Me and my border crossing trials: 
Please, dear Lord, don't ever let them build a wall around here. If I ever got out I would never get back in...


  1. Well that was an interesting lesson on flags (I did recognize the Jolly Roger) and I loved the guy and his bagpipes at the end - no sailor should be without them!

    Leanne |
    F for Family and Friends

    1. Thank you Leanne. I was struggling a little with the letter F...

  2. Ok. No sailing for me. I would Fail flag flying 101. Who knew? (Actually, was rather fascinating) Alana

    1. It is sort of interesting. And very confusing...


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