Did you know there are rules and etiquette for flags on boats? It makes sense since there are rules governing nearly every aspect of our lives and boating is positively steeped in tradition. Of course it is important to know these things, but you can’t know what you don’t know until you know, you know?
Peter and I bought a lovely little American flag and rail-mounted pole at West Marine one Saturday when we were feeling particularly bogged down in projects. (There’s nothing better to lift the spirits like a quick spruce-up when everything is torn apart and we feel like we will never see a normal life again.) The pole was 3 feet long and the flag was 24 inches. Rather smallish and disproportionate but it was what they had.
The problem with this particular flag pole was that it rattled in its mount every time the wind blew. This was a problem when enjoying sun downers. Each evening there was the annoying clunk clunk clunk clunk of the flagpole-socket. It drowned out the clink clink clink clink of ice in our glasses… The flag wasn’t even snapping jauntily in the breeze; most of the time it just hung limply while its too-small pole wobbled.
Enough was enough, apparently. I came home from work one day to find that Peter had:
- Found out about all the flag rules.
- Ordered a flag and new pole in compliance with said rules.
One of the rules is that the flag should be one inch on the fly for every foot of overall length. Well. Peter ordered a 36” flag and we feel that it is big enough even though it should really be 37” long. We are rule-breakers.
We are supposed to fly it from the gaff rig or, due to the fact that we do not have that, on the stern. Ideally it should be in the center (which it is) but, if necessary, on the starboard side.
We are also supposed to only put it out starting at 8 am (this should be accompanied by shooting a gun) until sunset (I’m not sure what we are supposed to shoot at this time, maybe each other). Since we have no guns aboard we make do with bringing it in when the weather is bad or when it is winter.
We did buy a nifty and rather spendy flag pole mount for the top of our wind vane. Now the flag can snap jauntily in the breeze as we sail off into the sunset. Except that we will be using our wind vane and, rebels that we are, will attach the flag on the port side of the boat because the bbq is on the starboard side. We choose food over fashion.