Sunday, 15 June 2014
Why the red flag with the Union Jack on it?
The Red Ensign flag is used by British registered craft to declare their nationality. There is etiquette about how to fly it. According to the British Royal Yachting Association the flag etiquette 'is a combination of the law (what you must do) and maritime tradition (expectations of behaviour within the sea faring community).' In terms of a law, a British registered merchant or private vessel should fly the ensign, but there is no requirement for a vessel to be registered in order to do so. PicoMicroYacht is registered (I did this to be 'legal' for the cross-channel row). There is no limit to the smallest size of craft that can fly the ensign. In terms of expectations of behaviour, it should be flown near the stern of a craft, and the size should be proportional to the craft (rule of thumb: one inch per foot of boat). Mine is far too large on this basis, but breaking etiquette means it fulfils the double purpose of being a safety feature, even though it might appear rather eccentric. I flew the Red Ensign through London so as to be seen.