In my position as rear commodore, I have learned many new things. Recently, I received a lesson in flag raising from Power Fleet Captain Paul Secard. I had been told that flag officers are responsible for raising their flag upon entering BCYC; my response to that was, ”I don’t know how.” The very next time I came into the club, Paul said, “Follow me,” so I did. He showed me where the flags are kept, how to raise the flag without getting tangled and how to put it away. And he had me do it. He covered all of the learning styles, “See it, say it, do it.” Now my biggest problem is remembering to do it when I get to the club!
Flag Etiquette from Yachting Protocol Guidelines states, “The main purpose of visual signals, including flags, is to convey information. The intent is to consistently convey the maximum amount of information in the fastest time. Someone approaching the club may determine with a glance at the club’s flagpole who is the senior officer present. It is incumbent on an officer, arriving or leaving the club, to insure their flag is displayed or struck so others may readily determine which officers are aboard.” This practice is consistent throughout the majority of the nautical world. At BCYC, the Columbia Room staff take the flags down.
It can appear, at times, some of the practices BCYC engages in are random or “just because” when in reality they evolved through time and have meaning and purpose. England’s first yacht club, the Cumberland Fleet, 1775, evolved into the Royal Yacht Squadron, 1815, on the Isle of Wight. Quoting again from Yachting Protocol Guidelines: “Membership was very restrictive. He must be adequately well born. He must be a good companion. He must be able to get tight without becoming disagreeable, or he must get tight and go to sleep.” Wise words, even today.