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Old 11-01-2010, 12:03   #1
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Courtesy Flags

Do immigration ports in the Caribbean sell courtesy flags? Is it acceptable to buy them in port and then fly it when returning to ship, or should it be "on hand".
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:17   #2
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You don’t usually fly a courtesy flag until your vessel is properly cleared by customs and immigration, so I suppose you could purchase them locally, but I tried to inventory those I expect to need. Until clearance is complete, you fly the yellow ‘Q’, or quarantine flag.

I’ve read stories of how, in certain Caribbean countries, the coast guard or some other official body on ships were intercepting the visiting yachts/sailboats, and requiring from those to have a courtesy flag hoisted at the moment when the vessels enters the territorial waters, or a penalty was to be paid. "Incidentally" the crew of the official boat had several of just appropriate flag that they were willing to sell to a "small price" (smaller then the penalty). I’ve never seen an instance where those certain countries were named, so doubt it’s authenticity.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:21   #3
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That sounds like something Boss Hogg would tell Rosco to do.
Get out there and hand out some fines, and if you cant find a reason why, bust a few tail lights.
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:33   #4
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so do I read your reply Gord as:
Fly the previous countries courtesy flag along with the "Q" flag until cleared and then drop both and change to that countries flag?
or, fly both previous countries & intending country courtesy flags and the "Q" flag?
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:40   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cdennyb View Post
so do I read your reply Gord as:
Fly the previous countries courtesy flag along with the "Q" flag until cleared and then drop both and change to that countries flag?
or, fly both previous countries & intending country courtesy flags and the "Q" flag?
I generally fly the "Q" flag when entering a new Country's waters, but don't hoist their Courtesy Ensign until I've cleared in, whereupon I douse the "Q", and fly the Ensign until I depart their waters.
It's generally frowned upon to fly Courtesy Ensigns when not in that Country's waters.
They're not "look where I've been" bumper stickers.
HTH,
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Old 11-01-2010, 12:53   #6
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thanks

understood, just wondered if there was a way to prevent the potential "You're not flying the right flag" confrontation with the police. What you said is what I've remembered to do along the way.
thanks
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Old 11-01-2010, 13:21   #7
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Don't count on buying them locally. It would be an incredible hassle to try to find one on every island nation you visited, and they would probably be much more expensive than what you can buy mail order over the Internet.

Regarding when to hoist it, in the eastern Caribbean, I always flew the yellow "Q" flag alone until I had cleared in, then exchanged it for the country's courtesy flag. Many european boats flew the "Q" with the local courtesy flag below it, then removed the "Q" after clearing in.

We visited all the islands in the eastern Caribbean but three, and was never asked if I had a courtesy flag. In Bermuda, the agent there said, after clearing us in, "you now can fly the courtesy flag, if you have one."
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Old 11-01-2010, 15:57   #8
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Old 11-01-2010, 19:39   #9
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Gord has his, way we have ours:

Q over their national as we enter. After clearance we drop the set, remove the Q, re hoist their national. We will sometimes supplement the national with regional, but always under the national. In some countries it is OK to fly only the regional (e.g. in Scotland we will fly only the Scottish flag, no red ensign, except on entering).

We once lowered the courtesy flag in a country where we were treated like (beep). Shame on us, but I decided the meaning of courtesy relates to courtesy.

Where it is difficult to buy a courtesy flag we will buy small national flags from Chinese 1 dollar shops, but it has to be a good size. They last about 3 weeks in the sun.

We try to have the flag beforehand, but this was not always possible. We could not buy Tongan in Cook Islands, etc..

Many cruisers make them, I make them too, but man some flags are just too weird - all the logos on them etc..

b.
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Old 12-01-2010, 03:47   #10
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Fascinating. Within the EU, where the Q flag is not required as you cross national borders, we always change the flag as we cross the border - and have been buzzed some 5 miles offshore by coastguards from Spain, for example, to check we've done it. We had always assumed that one would have the Q flag over the ensign until cleared in, which is what we did in Morocco.

Barnakiel's point about the regional flags is good too - Scotland, Corsica, Sardinia are all places which welcome that touch. However if your vessel is UK registered, your national ensign will be that of the UK (at least for now) and it is improper to fly the Saltire or other regional flag at the stern in place of that ensign. Some people do it though.
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Old 13-02-2010, 11:49   #11
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The courtesy flag has nothing to do with the custom clearance and should be used as soon as you enter the local waters...

Some countries does not like at all to see foreign boats without the courtesy flag.

The courtesy flag means that you recognise the local authority and regulation and that you'll comply with this regulation.

The "Q" flag should be used at your first entrance to call for custom clearance and shall be removed as soon as the boat has been custom cleared...FYI, in Europe some places are still requiring custom clearance from other european country like the Channel Islands (even if it is barely done anymore).

You are not supposed to leave the boat until the custom authorities have visited you, in theory, which is also barely done for leisure boat.

These 2 flags must not be on the same side, the "Q" flag is portside when the courtesy flag is starboard.

The "regional" courtesy flags are a sensitive subject.

In some countries, the history and the politics are sensible, and I am not specifically speaking about third world ones....

Therefore you must be perfectly aware before you use a "regional" courtesy flag (in france for example you have the britton, the norman, the basque, the corsican, the catalan...) that might be understood as sign of agression or sympathy, depending whos is looking at it.

Some coast guards from the area will appreciate to their "own local flag" on you boat when others native from another region will not acept it.

Moreover, in Belgium or Spian where extremists political group are very active in some area, it will not be very welcome to wear the "wrong" local courtesy flag...

As a foreigner, the best is to use the official courtesy flag (Spanish for Spain...) instead of a specific local one, the local people will accept this "error" from a foreigner more than a local sailor.
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Old 13-02-2010, 12:09   #12
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Fascinating. Within the EU, where the Q flag is not required as you cross national borders, we always change the flag as we cross the border - and have been buzzed some 5 miles offshore by coastguards from Spain, for example, to check we've done it.
You were buzzed to indentify who you were, usually via the drugs people, not to check the courtesy flag

I agree re regional flags, do not fly them unless (a) you understand the political message and (b) know which side you stand on that message and as a foreigner err on the simple side and fly the countrys offical courtesy flag.
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