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Old 05-02-2006, 12:00   #1
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is Flying the US flag safe anymore?

I just bought a new boat and am wondering how safe it is to be documented in the USA, with so much animosity toward the USA in the world today . Im wondering if I fly the US flag what kind of target will I become? I will be sailing the Med & N. & W. Africa . the next 2 years then back home to Florida for a breif stay & off again. Whats your opinion?
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Old 05-02-2006, 12:34   #2
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It's always a custom to fly the countrys' flag that your going to visit. It tells the locals that you have respect for them. I read that somewhere?

But if I was sailing to France. I would hoist up a French flag just as I'm sailing into a French port.

But, your boats homeport, is still exposed of the back (aft) end of the boat. If that's what your wondering about?
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Old 05-02-2006, 15:28   #3
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You fly a “Courtesy Ensign” when in foreign waters, only after you’ve made pratique (cleared in), and lowered the “Q” flag. The courtesy flag may, or may not, be the National or Civic ensign.
As a Canadian, flying the “Maple Leaf”, I wouldn’t go anywhere that a boat cannot safely fly an American Flag (except Cuba). There’s too many safer places to explore.
FWIW,
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Old 05-02-2006, 15:29   #4
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Ram, we have just returned from an extensive cruise of the Caribbean and almost all US flagged vessels fly their flags and we have never heard of any one having a problem as a result. However there a many vessels out their, ours included that choose not to fly a US flag. But not out of fear but rather out of shame. I am sure this comment will get quite a response but until such time as our current monarchy declares martial law we still have one of the few right left of free speech. Although that is questionable. I apologize to all you who might take offense of these remarks but we are no longer in the minority and those are my personal feelings on the current situation. Chuck
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Old 05-02-2006, 17:17   #5
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US flag

Chuck,

That is a tricky subject, although I agree wholeheartedly. Considering the Australian conservatives are actually defending the right to burn a flag, perhaps someone can start a trend of a respectful protest campaign. Sailing people are always into protest flags. Maybe you can fly the US flag upside down until the current monarchy is done.

Is there any history with upside down flags?

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Old 05-02-2006, 18:26   #6
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To Chuck and Hammerfelt,

The "current monarchy" is a duly elected government by the citizens of the United States and deserves the support of the people. That is the reason that our democracy has lasted for 230 years and so few other governments have kept pace. It is not only the right of an American to disagree with governmental policy, it is a democratic duty to voice differing opinons. To disagree with the government's policy is one thing, but to be ashamed of being an American is another. I pity you for your short sightedness. The United States has a long history of being one of the world's most munificent countries. They have assisted peoples throughout the history of the country and to be "ashamed of being an American" because of a disagreement with the current administration belittles the accomplishments of great people and a great nation.
I pity you. I am sorry you do not have the courage to stand for the convictions you so quickly lay claim to. To not hold you head up high and take a stand, in whatever direction it may be, is cowardly.
Since this is not a political BB, I apologize, in advance to the board members who do not share my opinion, but such a salvo cannot go unanswered. The end. I will comment no more on the subject.
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Old 05-02-2006, 20:59   #7
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Good subject

To avoid.
There is a history of flying a flag upside down. The US did this with the Canadian flag about four years ago.
Lets separate you the sailor, from you the US citizen, responsible for your government actions.
As a person and a sailor you can fly whatever flag you want including the US flag, and you should get treated fairly. People are people the world over and most folks realise this.
As a sailor you will not get blamed for whatever the government is up to. In Canada the liberals just pulled a fast one ( kickbacks ) with $300- million. You don't blame me for that. The rest of the civilized world knows what the US is up too, and you may get a bit of ribbing and a few jokes about it, but that should be it.
If however after a few beers you begin to say such things as the country you are is is not doing its part to fight terorism, and every thing the US does is a goddam world record, and tell everyone how your uncle won the last war--------- well hell you are going to get some backlash.
If you are concerned about getting flack because of the Iraq thing I would suggest that most other places are likely split 50 / 50 on the subject just as it is in the US. Go to NZ, OZZ, England and fly your flag with pride, expect to here the odd damm Yankee joke and get used to it. Just like us Kiwis know all the good sheep jokes. For the record this part time pacifist and my aunt Hilda agree with interveening in Iraq. I opposed the Viet Nam war.
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Old 05-02-2006, 23:58   #8
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I was most impressed during my visit to the States a couple of years ago (that coincided with Memorial Day) to see the US flag so prominently displayed on a daily basis. I feel the flag should be about the country, not the current regime, but external perceptions do not usually reflect this. I have worked for (and with) Americans for the last few years and am constantly amazed at the polarity of political opinion. We get Fox news on the TV and the NY Times Digest as our news sources which makes for a lot of confusion. To understand what is happening you have to add the results from both sources and divide by 2 .
I see a lot of Americans down here who share Chuck's feelings and can understand, but it is a very sad place to be. I don't believe that a country's flag (yours or another's) should ever be disrespected as a form of protest, as it is representative of the land and the people. Do you see right wingers neglecting the flag when a left wing administration is in power? If shame, fear of retaliation or the desire to protest influences your decision to acknowledge your country's symbol then might I suggest flying the flag in its rightful way and also making another, visible protest removed from the flag. (A burning effigy might be a bit strong but protest should always reflect the depth of your feelings). A combination of a caricature of (insert politician of choice) and the flag would demonstrate your pride as well as your loathing for the administration.
Remember, it is YOUR flag, not the president's.
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Old 06-02-2006, 05:07   #9
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Thanks all,
My thoughts were more on the line of if I was obligated to fly the US flag wile in some of these country's of possible hostel feelings towards Americans, kind of like the quarantine flag-
My concern is when we go ashore get shot or stabbed because we are Americans. Nothing would surprise me anymore. I think I would not fly the US flag at all, just as a safety precaution.

I personally felt a little uncomfortable even in the Paris area as I saw so many people dressed in sheets (for lack of a better word) and the recent unrest. I felt a little vulnerable surrounded by a sea of people wearing white & black sheets and my girl friend saying in english "HEY RAM ". (shes french) I was getting stern looks from those around me and it got me thinking. We are much more discrete now by the way.

Seems as our government has created a lot of resentment here at home and towards us as Americans in many parts of the world and I'm not crazy about showing what country I'm from, not out of shame , but more to avoid any kind of trouble .

Wile I think Bush has created more harm than good for our country and our world , I understand most folks don't hold our people responsible , for the actions of our government,except for maybe a few extremists, and it only takes one person to create a bad day for you.
Seems as from what you folks have said there should not be a problem and I want to thank you all for your input
I'm leaving around the first of April and plan on being in the Med until late next year when I may come back across about the same time as the ARC. I hope to run into some of you over there.
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Old 07-02-2006, 07:17   #10
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A family affair

After some discussion with my wife about this very subject last week, we came to a comprimise.

In light of Full Disclosure, I live in Texas and support the president (most of the time).

Before you decide one way or the other to decide to fly the American flag, I suggest you take some time and read some more American history and talk to some American veterans and Thank Them! They are the reason, for better or for worse, whether you agree with thier actions or not, that you can speak your mind freely without being hunted down anywhere in the world and sent to prison. For the actions of both my grandfathers, I will be forever in thier debt.

We have decided to fly the flag most everywhere. Where we believe that flying the American flag might lead to us to being targeted or otherwise hinder our safety or well being, we will fly the Texas flag. For those of you not from Texas, or don't know Texas history, Texas is the only state that can fly it's flag level with the American flag because Texas was it's own independant country before it became a state. Small children here are brainwashed at an early age to remember and toute (or is that flout) this fact to anyone who was not born in Texas. Whats amusing is there is a small group of people who are still advocating seperating from the US and becoming "The Republic of Texas" per the Texas State constitution. ( ok this could be a whole other thread so I better not get started.) This is a really weird state in some respects. It's kind of like gaining this huge extended family by moving to the state. People here are some of the most polite and friendly that I have met in my travels across most of the US.

Me, who moved here about 5 years ago, is reminded about this at least 3 or 4 times a year by my Texas born wife. Anyone from Texas will get a kick of us flying the Texas flag and Most other people won't understand.

If you truely disagree with the current administration, I can understand where you are coming from. But if you choose to not fly the flag because you don't want to be assocaited with the country in general, then I think you are sorely mistaken. As a fellow American, I personally think that at that point, you may as well pick another nation to join, because you are also distancing yourself from all those rights and liberties you like so much to make use of and claim in time of need. You get the bad with the good, this nation isn't perfect, and I don't like it all the time either, but it is MY country and I will stand up to be counted as a citizen even if I disagree with the government.

Other the other hand, I fully expect that if you are dis-satisfied with the current government, for you to exercise your right of free speech and creativity. At the very least you could fly the American flag upside down as a sign of distress. Fly your homeport state flag if you don't want to fly the American flag. Make your own flag to irritate the Coasties That is what being an American is all about. If you don't like the government in power, you can; 1) VOTE it out! It's very sad but Most Americans only vote in the national election 2) email your congress person. If your home port is in a liberal state, move it to a conservative state and vote there to make a difference, send email to the conservative congress person and get them to hear your point of view 3) Talk to everyone around you and discuss what it is that you do and do not like. 4) Be that ambassador of good will and represent what you believe America should be to all the countries and people you visit. 5) most liberals I know are far more creative than thier conservative counterparts, that goes for most sailors in general vs the land bound. (the creative part of course)

I have no issues with you or any other American being upset, that is part and parcel of being a American. The problem I have is when anyone denies being an American based on just the perceived bad parts of the government or policy. If you are an American, you are a member of a huge family, and like all families there are some good and bad members, and being a member you have certain rights and responsibilities. You can't have the rights without the responsiblities. So be creative in how you exercise your responsibilties!
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Old 07-02-2006, 19:45   #11
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Respect and support are earned, and the current administration has done nothing to earn them from me. I have nothing but animosity for the people currently running this country.
That being said, the American flag is far more than a representation of our government. To us and to the rest of the world it represents all that has been accomplished in the last 235 years. To refuse to fly the ensign in a foreign land would indicate a lack of character. As the old saying goes, I can hit my brother, but you can't. I am very proud to be an American, and very proud of what that truly stands for. I do not trust the current administration as far as I can throw any one of them. I understand the distrust that has developed in other countries as a result of the unwise selfserving actions of our president and his cronies, but I would not enter a foreign land waving the flag, claiming superiority. I would act as a guest, and I firmly believe that I would be treated as one on my own merit regardless of what flag I fly.
I have had many discussions about the need to support the system even when it is wrong, and to a point, I agree. A hundred guilty men walking free is far better than one inocent man going to prison. But when the system becomes so blind to the needs of it's own people, it should be critisized. Still, I would not let this critisizm make me any less of who I am, and I am an American.
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Old 07-02-2006, 21:35   #12
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This adminstration has no respect from me. They lost my respect during the first four years. And the funny thing is I'm a Republican!!

If I sailed into a foreign country. I would fly the "Courtesy Ensign" for that nation, after I have been cleared to enter.

Once leaving I would put the American flag back up on the pole. But never have it up in a foreign port. I would probably fly my state flag in it's place, or the "Courtesy Ensign." And that's it?

I love my country. I am an American. I was born here. I am part native American. And I served my nations' military. But, I hate my government. The ones in power now!!
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Old 08-02-2006, 00:29   #13
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I think we may be getting a bit off point here, and I have contributed to that. The most important point is will being identified as an American make you a target. I do not think so. True, in some places, stereotypes will effect how you are treated, but overall, it will be your actions as an individual that will determine how welcome you are. That is the point I was trying to make. If you enter a foreign port, and are not flying your own countries colors, it would be reasonable for people to assume you were hiding something. We live in a very turbulent time, and fears over being attacked in certain places are warranted, but simply because you are not flying a US ensign will not hide the fact you are an American. If the situation changes, and other countries start refusing entry just because you are a US citizen, you will not be able to gain entry just by hiding your flag. If your concern is piracy, you will probably be approached if it is not clear what your registry is, and if approached, I would certainly rather be seen as someone who would anounce myself than someone who would hide.
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Old 08-02-2006, 09:27   #14
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Without furthering the political discussion I would like to respond to a few points that may be of interest to RAM in regards to his question. We have entered and cleared seven countries in the last year or so and were in and out of numerous ports in each of those countries. At no time in any of those cases were officials concerned nor did they even care if we flew the flag of our country. As long as we honored the Q flag and their countries courtesy flag. AT NO TIME did any one indicate we were hiding something because we did not fly a US flag. Our name and hailing port are on our stern. Many boats from other countries were not flying their flags for various reasons, some as simple as the flag had worn out and a replacement was not available. Neither we nor anyone we knew thought these folks were hiding anything. It is doubtful that anyone including the officials visiting our boats even gave it a second thought. You need to get off the docks and farther afield, whichh means out of your local waters to see how the rest of the world perceives America and Americans in todays world. We were welcomed and treated well because of how we treated them and presented ourselves. Many Americans checking in to foreign ports created problems for those checking in behind them because of their attitudes etc. We never heard those complaints from officials about Canadians, Germans, The English, or surprising enough the French. Most Europeans spoke passable Spanish in the Hispanic countries we visited and we do also. Many Americans demanded that a English speaking person conduct their business even when none were available and English was not the language of our host country. We do not always present ourselves well to the rest of the world outside the government. That said, RAM you will need to stay on top of the situation in the areas you will visit. If a known problem has occurred then perhaps avoiding that area is the best solution. Each country and harbor will be different and the issues and politics are in constant flux. It is your decision as to whether to fly a flag or not based on your comfort levels and information gathered from others that are ACTUALLY THERE. The local radio nets and web sites such as Noonsite that post reports from folks that are out there are other good sources. We do plan to spend as much time as possible outside the US for the next two years and try to pass on our experiences as often as we can. Our experiences have been wonderfully so far but the next boat behind us will tell of miserable experiences in the same harbor. You reap what you sow but we have found that sometimes that wall is there until we can break it down with a little good will and a friendly effort. OK, so maybe this post got a little political again, but realities and perceptions are on opposite ends of the spectrum. do what feels right for YOU in the context of your situation and location. But don't forget to enjoy and have fun. The world is NOT as frightening a place as you are led to believe. But due care and diligence is the watchword where ever you go.
You property or life could be threatened anywhere with no regard as to what flag you fly. And that includes right outside your front door in the good ole USA. Actually maybe more so. Chuck
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Old 08-02-2006, 09:39   #15
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Chuck, we are saying basicly the same thing. THe one difference is regarding not flying a flag, and my take on that is that if you are doing it to hide where you are from, people will realize it. If you are not flying your flag for other reasons, that too will be appearant to people. It all depends on how you respond to the usual questions such as "Where are you from?". No one trusts someone who is hiding something.
And FWIW, you are correct. I have only sailed in US,Canadian, and Mexican waters, so my views are limited, but human nature is the same wherever you go.
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