a) Flag of country that the boat is registered in on the stern.
Purpose: to identify the country of ship registration
and the regulations
under and to easily identify her and warn the locals whether she be a "Johnny Foreigner" vessel
b) NATIONAL "Courtesy Flag" of the country you are visiting from Starboard crosstrees (Note that this flag is a small version of the Foreign countries maritime ensign - i.e when visiting the UK the "Courtesy Flag" is a mini Red Ensign, NOT a Union Jack / Flag).
Purpose: It's a "Courtesy"
and in maritime communities is looked on as being a good thing. It says "I know I am a visitor, but I deliberately chose to come and visit and beforehand I put a little time and effort in and I want to be freinds". Think of it the same as offering a handshake when meeting someone new, you do not have to always do so, and of course not doing so does not mean you will not later become freinds - it is just a polite way to start.
It is also a visible acknowledgement that the captain
of the vessel accepts he is no longer SOLELY operating under the law of the vessel's country of origin nor is on the high seas. (Note that not flying a Courtesy Flag does not
mean the boat is magically still in Kansas (or Milton Keynes
) for legal
purposes......no matter what the country of origin or the passport of the Captain
)......and from my (non boat) experiances in the 3rd world locals tend to be a bit touchy about due respect being given to their flag.........Union Jack style underpants just won't wash for the flags
of some countries
.....and especially if (when?!) visiting the 3rd world by boat (i.e. places like England
) I would fly their Courtesy Flag as a matter of course.
c) REGIONAL "Courtesy Flag" - flown just under
the national Courtesy Flag (only the other way around if it is a region where the locals shoot at the National Gov't........and are winning
). Examples would be when visiting France
- we always fly the Breton or Norman flags
.......and over the years we have had a few favourable comments (people do not rush up and hug us! - just that in some parts
of the world regional identity is as important as national (often it is older!) and IME foreigners appreciating the difference always goes down well).
The country of origin / passport of the Captain or crew is simply irrelevent when it comes to the boat - excepting that some foreign passport holders do get treated better as people than others and as a side effect so may the boat.