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Boat Flags - Nautical Flag Code Signals

Boat Flags - Nautical Flag Code Signals

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Boat Flags

Ahoy mateys, raise the mainsail! Whether you use your boat for the occasional recreational use at your favorite vacation spot or you like to travel the deep blue and find yourself more at home on the sea than in your one-bedroom apartment, a good boat flag is always a welcomed addition. Boat flags can serve as a way of identifying yourself or communicating messages in an instant to other people and vessels on the water. Whatever your reason is for wanting one, we have got the flag for you.

The Classic Yacht Club Design

One of my personal favorites at the United States Flag Store is our very own Nylon U.S. Yacht Flag. It looks a lot like the Betsy Ross American Flag, with 13 stars in a circle encompassing an anchor and 13 alternating red and white stripes. This flag is 20 inches by 30 inches, made of sewn nylon with sewn stripes and embroidered stars, and also comes with brass grommets giving it both beauty and brawn. 100% made in the U.S.A. by Super Tough, this boat flag is ready to hit the road- I mean water with you. 

This flag was initially made as a way to identify all licensed yachts and came into law by Congress in 1848. It was done so that these folks didn't have to pass through customs while going out for a pleasure cruise or while having a good old-fashioned yacht race and docking from port to port. It is based on the original "small boat flag," which had 13 stars, presumably because it was easier to see on a smaller flag and looked so much like the national flag that people started using this in lieu of it on their boats. This would happen for ships of all sizes, not just yachts. This was fought for a little bit by the United States government but eventually deemed suitable for vessels of all sizes to use this as a national flag, but only while the said boat is in U.S. waters.

The Jolly Roger

What's a pirate's favorite letter? Y'arrr, it be the "c." If you fancy yourself a rebellious rabble-rouser and want to raise a classic pirate, flag we have got just the flag for you. Our Jolly Roger 5ft by 8ft Nylon Flag would look quite intimidating on the mast of a bigger ship. And while I wouldn't recommend flying this flag in international waters, there are still real pirates out there, I'm sure you can get away with it out on your hometown lake or putting it up in your man cave. 

If you are interested in reading more about different pirates and their flags, check out our Pirate Flag landing page. We cover what it means to fly a pirate flag, where it originated, and even cover some famous historical pirates and their flags. 

Storm Warning Signal Flags

We have talked about identifying yourself, now let's talk about communicating and some flag signals we have here at the United States Flag Store. Our Nautical Storm Warning Signal Flags can serve as a great way to alert other boaters on the water of an incoming storm cell or high winds. With your choice of a Gale Warning and Hurricane Warning Flag or a set of two that combines them!

The Old Stars and Stripes

And the flag you are absolutely going to need if you are sailing abroad in your boat is going to be the old Stars and Stripes. The U.S. 2ft by 3ft Super Knit Flag serves as an excellent flag to put on board. This is in part due to being made of our blend of Superknit Polyester which gives it both great looks and durability. This flag is an import, however, is available at a low price with the same high-quality standards you have come to expect from Super Tough. You'll want to fly your national flag more toward the back of your boat on the stern. 

The U.S. Jack, Classic Maritime Flag

This is a very simple flag and in fact, was adopted around the same time as the national flag of the United States in 1777. It is known as the Jack of the United States or the U.S. Jack Flag. The primary design of this flag sees the canton or blue field of the American flag with 50 stars. This flag has correlated with the number of stars on the national flag throughout its tenure. It is made of sewn nylon and comes with embroidered stars and measures 25 inches by 31 inches. This maritime flag is made to fly on the bow of ships of the U.S. that are anchored or moored. This flag is primarily used by commissioned ships in the United States Navy, Coast Guard, and other entities within the United States government, although it is acceptable for citizens to use. This flag is made in the U.S.A. and has spurred brass grommets.

What flags are used for boating? The National Flag and Nautical Flag Alphabet

The most common flags used for boating are going to be the national flag of the country from which the boat and or subsequent captain are from and the classic Nautical Flag Alphabet or International maritime signal flags. Boats have been flying their national flag for as long as they have been on the sea. The International maritime signal flags came about in 1857, thanks to the British Board of Trade. These are great for letting other ships know a little bit about your ship and your situation and communicating with one another. For instance, perhaps your communication system is offline, this is where having a predesignated set of signal flags would come in handy. You can use them to alert other ships of your intentions, your cargo, or if you have a diver down. 

How many nautical flags are there?

A total of 40 different flags are in the standard chart of the International flags and pennants of the International Code of Signals.

What does a yellow nautical flag mean?

A solid yellow nautical flag is code for "Quebec." It essentially means that my vessel is healthy and requests free permission to dock. This was and is used as a way of saying to local authorities that you are not carrying any diseases or sicknesses, therefore there is no need to quarantine.

What is the nautical flag for z?

The nautical flag for Z is Zulu. Zulu is used when a ship needs to be towed or pushed to its destination or dock where it shouldn't be using its own engine or power. This will happen in the case of bigger ships in crowded or small ports. 

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