Flag Etiquette 


i) The Ensign worn by a yacht shall be the maritime ensign of the country in which the yacht is registered. For British registered yachts the ensign shall be either the RED ENSIGN or a SPECIAL ENSIGN.
ii) The Special Ensign of the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club (“the Ensign”) is the Blue Ensign of Her Majesty’s Fleet defaced with the Arms of Gibraltar surmounted by the Royal Crown.
iii) The Ensign may only be worn by a Yacht for which a full member of The Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club (the Club) holds a valid Admiralty Warrant authorising them to do so.
iv) A full member wishing to fly the Blue Ensign of the Club aboard their yachts must apply for an Admiralty Warrant. The application form is obtained from the Club Secretary, must be completed and forwarded, together with the yachts registration papers, to him for transmission to the Admiralty. To obtain a Warrant a Yacht must be registered in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act.
v) Members who have obtained a Warrant shall return it to the Club Secretary if:
(a) They dispose of their Yacht, or
(b) Resign from the Club.
vi) The Warrant must always be produced when demanded by an Officer of Her Majesty’s Navy, Port Authorities or by the British Consul.
vii) The Attention of Yacht owners wearing the Royal Gibraltar Yacht Club Ensign is drawn to the relevant Admiralty regulations.
viii) The Club Burgee (“the Burgee”) is a white triangular Flag, with a Blue St. George Cross, the Arms of Gibraltar in the centre surmounted by the Royal Crown.
ix) Any full member may fly the Burgee in any yacht of which he is in command.
x) The Flag of the Commodore is a swallow-tailed pennant of the same proportions and colouring as the Burgee. The flags of the Vice Commodore and the Rear Commodores are similar to the Commodore’s except that the Vice Commodore’s flag has one red ball in the top corner nearest the mast and the Rear Commodore’s has one red ball in the top corner nearest the mast and one red ball in the bottom corner nearest the mast.


i) The Ensign may only be worn when the permit holder is in command of the yacht for which the permit is granted, and when the permit is onboard.
ii) In no circumstances may the Club’s privileged Ensign be worn on its own without the Club’s Burgee (or a Flag Officer’s Broad Pennant).
iii) In harbour the Ensign shall be hoisted at 0800 hours local time and lowered at sunset, or 2100 hours, or when the owner goes ashore, whichever is the earliest.
iv) In harbour or at anchor the Ensign shall be worn from an ensign staff at the stern of the vessel.
v) At sea the Ensign shall be worn in daylight hours, when passing another vessel or when in sight of land. The ensign must always be worn when entering or leaving a foreign port.
vi) At sea the ensign shall be worn as follows:
(a) On a Bermudan sloop on the ensign staff or two thirds of the way up the leech or backstay.
(b) On Bermudan ketches and yawls at the head of the after mast.
(c) On gaff rigged yachts at the end of the gaff on the mast.
(d) On power craft from the gaff of the main mast or from the ensign staff at the stern.


i) The Burgee should be flown from a staff above the main mast head. Some consider the starboard crosstree acceptable but as this in an inferior position it is better avoided. A gaff rigged cutter carrying a big jackyard topsail may fly the burgee from the end of the topsail yard.
ii) In power craft without a mast the Burgee may be flown from a staff in the bows.
iii) The Burgee shall only be flown with the Club’s special Ensign or the Red Ensign, never with another club’s special Ensign.
iv) The Burgee shall be flown for the duration of a cruise but must be lowered at the end of each cruise.
v) In harbour the Burgee may be lowered at night. The timing would be the same as for the Ensign.
vi) Do not fly the Burgee of more than one club at the same time.


i) A Flag Officer shall fly hi Broad Pennant instead of the Burgee.
ii) When a Flag Officer is onboard another member’s yacht he should be invited to fly his Broad Pennant in place of the member’s Burgee.


i) When sailing in Foreign Waters member yachts should fly the Maritime Ensign of that country as a courtesy flag.
ii) In certain provinces it is an additional courtesy to fly the provincial Flag as well as the Maritime Ensign. In such cases the provincial Flag should be flown on the same hoist as the Maritime Ensign but in an inferior position.


i) Members may have their own House Flag. This may be flown on a yacht when the member is in command.
ii) A house flag shall be hoisted and lowered at the same time as the burgee.


i) The position in descending order or priority which flags may be flown are:
(a) Main mast starboard crosstree outer halyard.
(b) Main mast port crosstree outer halyard.
(c) Main mast starboard crosstree inner halyard.
(d) Main mast port crosstree inner halyard.
ii) For power craft without a mast flags should be positioned above the wheelhouse but always inferior to the Club Burgee.
iii) The descending order of priority of Flags are:
(a) Maritime Ensign of foreign country.
(b) Provincial flag.
(c) Owner’s House Flag.
(d) Customs Flag Q.


i) For national or local festivals, yachts when at anchor or berthed alongside may dress overall.
ii) The only flags to be used in ‘the dressing line’ are the International Code of Signals.
iii) The order of the flags on a single masted vessel are:
(a) From bow to mast head:
1. E, Q, n3, G, n8, Z, n$, W n6, P, n1, I, answering pendant, T, Y, B, X, 1st sub, H. (b) From mast head to stern:
1. 3rd sub, D, F, 2nd sub, U, A, O, M, R, n2, J, n0, N, n9, K, n7, V, n5, L, C, S.
iv) For two masted vessels the line between the fore mast and the aft mast begins with Y and ends with O.
v) For National festivals an additional special ensign or the red ensign should be worn at the mast head or mast heads..On the main mast the Ensign would be flown beside the Burgee
vi) Flag Officers do not fly a mast head ensign beside their Broad Pennant.
vii) The special ensigns of more than one club shall not be worn at the same time.
viii) It is incorrect to proceed under way whilst dressed overall, though the mast head ensigns may still be flown.


i) When passing or being passed by a Royal Yacht, a Warship or a Flag Officer’s Yacht the Ensign shall be dipped.
ii) When meeting a Squadron the Ensign shall only be dipped to the senior officer’s ship.
iii) The Ensign is dipped by slowly lowering it about two thirds of its hoist. If the size of the staff does not allow this the staff may be removed from its socket and held horizontally.
iv) The yacht making the salute keeps her Ensign at the dip until the salute is acknowledged and the vessel starts to re-hoist her Ensign. The yacht’s Ensign is then re-hoisted.


i) A yacht that is primarily for business or chartering will not be given a Warrant.
ii) If a yacht is occasionally let out on charter then the Warrant, Ensign and Burgee must be removed from the yacht for the duration of the charter.


i) In the event of mourning the Ensign of a Warrant holder should be worn at half mast. The correct procedure is to hoist the Ensign fully before half masting, and when lowering to hoist fully from the half mast position before lowering.


i) Members must ensure that their Ensign and Burgee are maintained in good condition.


i) The Warrant for a member’s yacht to wear a Special Ensign is given by The Admiralty. Should contravention of the terms of the Warrant come to the attention of The Admiralty this could result in the withdrawl of the Warrant. ii) Under section 73 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 it is an offence to fly as your Ensign ANY flag other that the Red Ensign or a Special Ensign that you are authorised to wear.