Boat flags, the 13 rules you (may) not know


Give or treat yourself to a subscription to the print + digital Journal of Sailing and for only 69 euros a year you get the magazine at home plus read it on your PC, smartphone and tablet. With a sea of advantages.

boat flags

Boat flags. A topic we often cover from a bureaucratic point of view (here, for example, we have explained to you the differences between the Italian flag and the Polish and Slovenian flags, which are the trend of the moment), less so from a “seafaring” point of view.

Boat flags, which ones to have

On board each boat you should have three flags National; the social guidon of your club and, if you plan to travel in the territorial waters of one or more foreign nations, the relevant national flag, which is named courtesy flag; the complete set of the international signal code and wanting to Of the flag of the owner or owner. Of the exact location of the flags in the boat we will cover in detail in a future article.

We explain 13 general rules on the appropriate use of flags in boats.

Flags in boats, the general rules

  1. The national flag must be the largest flag displayed.
  2. The national flag should be hoisted at sunrise and lowered at sunset
  3. Other flags follow the hoisting and proceed the lowering.
  4. The only exception is the social guidon, which hoisted at the head of the mast is almost never lowered.
  5. In port, the flag raising is determined by the port authority or the largest military ship present or of the highest rank, normally taking place at 08.00 am. Clubs, which follow tradition, can also be a reference for the flag-raising.
  6. At night the flag should be raised at the request of a military vessel and upon entering or leaving a port, and in any case along the coast.
  7. The flag should be hoisted on a special pole normally at the stern of boats on the starboard side of the transom and not tied to the stern backstay.
  8. Putting one flag over another has meant that the one below is prey to war so it should not be used in recreation. Also, as is often seen, one or more guidons on top of each other tied to the crosses is a double mistake; first, the guidon should not be hoisted to the crosses, and second, they should not be put on top of each other.
  9. Although it is common in France to tie the national flag to the forestay at the stern, it is not correct and among other things inelegant when the rest of the world ties it to a pole at the stern. This tradition stems from the fact that on boats with auric sails the flag was hoisted on the peak, and then the flag was tied in the position it would have been had it been auric.
  10. The flag must be undamaged and unsoiled.
  11. Boats racing. Racing boats normally do not display the national flag. So hoisting it in competition therefore has the meaning of no longer being part of the racing boats and thus means “Retreating.”
  12. The flag cannot be used as a tablecloth or in an inappropriate way.
  13. When the national flag is unusable, it should not be thrown away but burned privately.

Be honest: did you know all these rules about flags in boats?



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Check out the latest issue

Are you already a subscriber?

Ultimi annunci
Our social

Sign up for our Newsletter

We give you a gift

Sailing, its stories, all boats, accessories. Sign up now for our free newsletter and receive the best news selected by the Sailing Newspaper editorial staff each week. Plus we give you one month of GdV digitally on PC, Tablet, Smartphone. Enter your email below, agree to the Privacy Policy and click the “sign me up” button. You will receive a code to activate your month of GdV for free!

Once you click on the button below check your mailbox



You may also be interested in.


Sign in