Courtesy Flags

Sailboats fly the flag of their home country on the stern. When they first arrive in a new country, they fly the “quarantine” flag (all yellow) from the starboard spreader (part way up the mast) to indicate that the boat needs to be cleared in by customs and immigration authorities. Then the quarantine flag is replaced with the flag of the current country. This is called a courtesy flag.

When we were preparing for the BPO we made a list of the countries we expected to visit, and we looked on the Web for courtesy flags. Most flag companies sold overly expensive flags (made to last longer than we need). We found one company that sold flags so inexpensive that I doubted they would last through the first squall. We decided to order the inexpensive ones, but only through French Polynesia, so we could see if they are rugged enough before we order more. The flags have been fine. But we forgot to place our order for more!

For the last several days we’ve been scrambling, trying to procure the flags we need between here and Australia. Well…one benefit of boats dropping out of the BPO is…they have flags they are willing to part with. Indeed, we procured a very inexpensive set of flags that will take us from here to Indonesia. Except…they didn’t have Niue, which is our next planned stop. Niue is one of the smallest countries in the world (population 1300), and its flag is not readily available on short notice.

So…time to make our own! The background of the Niue flag is yellow, which is the same as the international code flag for the letter Q (which is also the quarantine flag). So I started with the Q from our code flag set. The upper left quadrant of the flag is complex, in white, red, blue and yellow. I cut pieces of sail repair material, bought permanent markers, drew the design, and stapled the material on to the Q flag.

It may not last long, but it doesn’t have to (maybe 3 days). Here’s my little handiwork.

Flag improv
Flag improv
Niue, here we come!
Niue, here we come!
Proudly deployed
Proudly deployed

6 thoughts on “Courtesy Flags”

  1. Very clever — and a perfectly nice flag! Someday you’ll hang that flag in your boat shed, workshop, or study and always remember how you came to have it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For such a itty-bitty country (the Mouse That Roared?) it sure is one heck of a complex flag. A cool one, though. Love your handiwork. I can see you taking up quilting when you return to Maine (and since I make contemporary quilts, I’d be more than happy to give you some lessons if you’d ever want ’em — even if you seem to already have the basic skills you need already!).


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