One of our many pre-departure preparation items was the purchasing of the yellow Q (quarantine) flag, along with courtesy flags for each of the countries that we would be visiting, either intentionally, or potentially due to some change of course or boat maintenance requirement. International law mandates that vessels fly the yellow quarantine flag upon entering territorial waters of another country. The yellow Q flag must remain flying until the vessel and its crew clear customs and immigration at which point it is taken down and replaced with the host country’s courtesy flag.
Since our vessel is registered and flagged in the United States, in accordance with proper flag etiquette, we proudly fly Old Glory from the highest place of honor on our vessel, her stern.
Courtesy flags are flown at the next highest place of honor, e.g. a starboard halyard, or in our case a jack staff on our bow.
As a supplement to the boys’ homeschooling, we have assigned them the duty of raising and lowering the quarantine and courtesy flags as appropriate to our immigration status and our host country du jour.
We have also assigned them the task of researching and keeping a journal about the meaning of the flag for each country that we visit. This week they learned that the aquamarine stripes at the top and bottom of the Bahamian National Flag depict the colors of the Bahamian skies and water while the yellow stripe in the middle represents the shore. The black triangle on the left of the flag signifies unity. The courtesy flag for the Bahamas have the Bahamas National Flag on the top left corner of a red flag with a cross on it.