Last year we were sailing in the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. Mark and I watched a sailboat sail pass and noticed they had a yellow t-shirt tied to a rope next to the spreaders. This is usually the place boats display courtesy and quarantine flags. Their yellow quarantine flag probably got ripped up or lost somewhere along the way. So, they had to improvise. It is not always easy to buy things in remote places especially things like quarantine flags. When you don’t have internet shopping at your fingertips you get creative. It was the right color yellow and in the right place on the boat so who am I to say anything? One day it could be us. I think we have a dark yellow t-shirt on board somewhere. hummm… I know we have a bunch of dark yellow microfiber cloths on the boat. That might work. They are the right size. Just planning ahead.
The thought came back to my mind a few weeks ago while I was purchasing new flags for our upcoming journey. We needed a new United States flag. Ours got ripped up in the two tropical storms that blew through during hurricane season. We can buy well made USA flags but we have difficulty finding good quality courtesy flags for other countries. The flag we bought for the Bahamas only lasted half the season last year. We could only find courtesy flags screened on thin nylon. They just don’t last very long. While I was at it, I purchased a few other flags for places we plan to visit.
One of the cool things cruisers do is fly their flags on special occasions. Boaters will display all of the courtesy flags from all the places they have visited. The flags are strung together and hoisted up the mast. It is really fun to see all the different flags and chat with boaters about the places they have visited. Recently there was a celebration for our friends aboard BeBe. They completed a ten year circumnavigation. Here is a picture of all of their courtesy flags.
As we enter a new country we lower the flag from our last port and raise a yellow quarantine flag. Once we clear customs and immigration we exchange the quarantine flag for the courtesy flag for the country we are visiting. In some countries the courtesy flag is different from the country flag. We found this out on our first visit to the Bahamas five years ago.
There is always a bit of excitement when we raise each flag. Mark and I are usually at the end of a long journey and looking forward to arriving. And, there is a lot of anticipation of adventures to come.