Flag Display

Discussion in 'US Flag Display' started by JS2000, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. JS2000

    JS2000 New Member

    I am a member of a veteran's club residing next door to a yacht club. The yacht club has a flagpole with it's burgee at the highest point of the main pole on it's own halyard.

    The US flag is on it's own halyard which is afixed to the end of a yardarm at an elevation much less than that of the burgee.

    I've read descriptions calling for the US flag to be at the highest point of a group but these descriptions only seem to mention cases where they're suspended from the same halyard or adjacent staffs, not separate halyards on the same pole.

    As far as I'm concerned, the intent is clear: the US flag is to be at a higher point than all other non-national flags. However, the yacht club is focused on playing games with semantics. They have declined to oblige us.

    Do we have any recourse on this matter?
  2. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    The yacht club is correct. Maritime tradition calls the yardarm the place of honor. On board a ship, the nation's ensign (their national flag at sea) flies from the stern. The ensign is a huge flag that must be seen at a distance and must fly free, and the rear of the ship is the only place you can do that. In this location it happens to be lower than the tops of all the masts, but is the most honorable location. (You could not fly such a large flag from the top of the mainmast as it would get fouled in the sails or rigging.)

    This tradition is far older than the US Flag Code and is acceptable protocol on land as long as it is in a maritime setting, like a yacht club.

  3. JS2000

    JS2000 New Member

  4. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hi, JS2000,

    Thanks for the link to the photo! As NAVA1974 stated, it looks like the Yacht Club is doing it correctly. The US flag is not actually flying from a yardarm, but from the gaff, which is the spar that is fitted to the aft side of a mast (or flagpole, in this case), and is angled upward rather than horizontal. A ship typically flies the ensign from the gaff when underway, and from a pole on the stern when in port or at anchor. This yacht club, like many others, has a flagpole that is fitted out like a ship's mast, and they follow nautical protocol.

    The yardarm is the horizontal spar that's at right angles to the centerline of the ship. It's used for flying signal and rank flags, etc. (Technically, the spar itself is the "yard" and the ends of the yard are "yardarms", but nowdays it seems to be common to call the whole thing a yardarm.)

    Welcome to the forum -- glad to have you aboard!

    Peter Ansoff

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