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On a boat, the word flag does not exist, only flags are used.
Some rules of the maritime code
A flag is always hoisted at the bottom of the halyard, at the maximum
Never install 2 flags on the same halyard. Only the flags of the "international code of signals" can be superimposed to signify a message
If the whole crew has left the edge, one must normally lower all the flags.
The National Pavilion
This pavilion is also called "the colors".
It is used to identify the nationality of a vessel. It is the largest of all flags and is proportional to the size of the ship. It is mandatory and is sent to the very rear of the boat, the stern, on a staff (specific pole slightly inclined to the rear) with sufficient height to be able to execute salutes and possibly lower the flag. It can also be displayed on the mizzenmast or at the end of the mainsail horn for cutters.
The National flag is always fixed on a halyard to allow the salute. By default on a sailboat, it is positioned on the backstay, but that is bad taste. Out of respect for your country and the countries visited, you must have a flag in good condition.
Did you know ? The proportions of the National Pavilion were defined by the painter David, it consists of 3 bands which are not of the same width: blue 30%, white 33%, red 37%. Thus the pavilion gives the impression of having three equal bands when it flutters in the wind.
The club pavilion
It is the flag of your yacht club or sailing club, we also say club handlebars.
It settles at the highest point of a boat. In the past they were installed at the top of the mast but with the appearance of aerials, it is allowed to be carried on the halyard of the spreader, on the starboard side, but if this halyard is already occupied by the courtesy flag, it will go on the spreader halyard on the port side. Abroad it is hoisted on the spreader halyard on the port side.
It is a great courtesy when visiting another association or club during events, meetings, gatherings, regattas, or other... to offer a club handlebar.
The courtesy pavilion
It is a mark of respect for the country you are visiting.
It is hoisted onto the spreader halyard, on the starboard side, of the forwardmost mast. It is mandatory and must be installed as soon as you enter the territorial waters of the country visited. To hoist it to port, as some of our neighbors do, whom we will not mention, is an insult to the country visited.
It is smaller than the national pavilion. As a courtesy, we wear it from sunrise to sunset and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. once in port.
The free practice request pavilion
This is flag Q (in memory of the time when ships remained in Quarantine).
We send it into the spreaders on the port side. It indicates that you are requesting the right to enter and land in the waters of the country of arrival. You must then go to the customs offices to complete the formalities, see our article on clearances. Since the creation of the European Union, this practice is no longer necessary in Europe, but remains valid in other countries. Once the formalities have been completed, the flag is lowered.
The owner's pavilion
This pavilion is free, you can create it according to your imagination.
It is sent when the owner is on board, under the spreaders on the starboard side (if they are already used, it is sent on the port side). It passes to port as soon as the courtesy flag is hoisted. If the owner is absent, it is replaced by a blue rectangle, and if the owner is having lunch (not to be disturbed), it is replaced by a white rectangle.
The grand bulwark
It is a question of sending all the flags of the "international code of signals" on a single halyard going from the bow to the back of the boat passing through the masthead, on port holidays, receptions, ceremonies …), from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The goal is to decorate the boat, so never when sailing.
Composed of 40 pavilions in this order to avoid any unwelcome words or interpretations:
From bow to top of mast: E, Q, 3, G, 8, Z, 4, W, 6, P, 1, I, Preview, T, Y, B, X, 1st substitute, H, 3rd substitute.
Top of mast to stern: D, F, 2nd substitute, U, A, O, M, R, 2, J, 0, N, 9, K, 7, V, 5, L, C, S.