The dictionary defines protocol as a code of correct conduct. When it comes to yacht protocol at EYC, we must keep it in the context of EYC tradition and the EYC objective "to expand and modernize the concept of Corinthian yachting". That nets out to mean not too much and not too little, and perhaps a reasonable amount of flexibility. Not so much protocol as to be stuffy and arrogant, and not so little as to display ignorance or disrespect for yachting tradition, but enough flexibility to "expand and modernize the concept".
The areas of conduct addressed here relate to flag etiquette on premises and aboard our sail and power boats, cruising routine including how we enter and depart from a club raft, some traditional EYC behavior at the clubhouse, and behavior at other yacht clubs.
The flag mast on the water side of the EYC clubhouse represents the mast of a sailing vessel. The U.S. national ensign is flown as it would be flown on a gaff rigged boat, at the peak of the gaff. The EYC burgee is flown at the masthead. Note that proper flag etiquette requires no other flag be flown above the U.S. ensign. However, yacht club procedure is correct because "above", in flag etiquette, means "directly on top of". The senior flag officer's flag may be displayed on the starboard yardarm and code flags or storm signals are displayed on the port yardarm. Flags may be displayed from morning colors, 0800, to evening colors, sunset, or 24 hours a day provided the U.S. ensign is illuminated during hours of darkness. At EYC, we elect to conform to the latter.
RECIPROCITY AND BURGEE EXCHANGE
Not all, but many yacht clubs offer reciprocal privileges to visiting members of not-for-profit, US Sailing affiliated or International Sailing Federation (ISAF) affiliated yacht clubs. Also, a copy of the Register of American Yacht Clubs(Reciprocity Guide) is available for reference at the club which lists yacht clubs and their reciprocity policies. These clubs are often referred to as "recognized" yacht clubs. Burgees displayed in our clubhouse have been presented by visitors from such affiliated clubs. This tradition of reciprocity dates back to the 1800's when clubs confirmed these privileges on an annual basis through the exchange of letters which were posted in the reciprocating clubs. Over the years, these letters have given way to preprinted reciprocity cards and simply a less formal courtesy exchanged between recognized yacht clubs.
It is always good practice, when cruising away from home, to first visit EYC Outfitters and purchase a 12x18 inch burgee or two to offer to clubs that extend privileges to you. They just might offer you one to bring home for display in our clubhouse. If you do such a burgee exchange, receiving a burgee from a recognized club who's burgee is not currently on display, the club will provide you with a credit toward future Outfitters purchases. You can check with the club staff to see if a particular club is on our list of displayed burgees. And, if you happen to encounter visitors from other clubs who would like to do a burgee exchange, the club staff will assist you in providing them with an EYC burgee.
We must remember that reciprocity does not mean carte blanche access to all yacht clubs the world over. Rules and privileges vary by club and one should not expect to walk into any private yacht club and be welcomed with open arms because you have a card identifying you as belong to Eastport Yacht Club. So, if a club's rules are not known to you it is best to inquire in advance and accept their rules with good humor and without question.
ENSIGN: If you choose to fly the ensign in U.S. Waters, it is important that you comply with the following; and it is mandatory that you fly the national ensign while entering and leaving a foreign port. Aboard our sailing and power vessels, the U.S. national ensign (Stars & Stripes), or the U.S. yacht ensign (anchor & thirteen stars) is flown from a stern staff from 0800 until sunset. The choice is yours, except in international or foreign waters where the national ensign is required. There are three exceptions and only three exceptions. Being too lazy to make colors at sunset is not one of them. If you leave your vessel before sunset and will not return until after sunset, remove the ensign before departing. The three exceptions to the 0800-to-sunset rule are: 1) the flag is not flown from a boat while racing, 2) the flag need not be flown when offshore except when meeting or passing other vessels, and 3) the flag is flown while entering and leaving a port, even at night. Your ensign should be approximately one inch on the fly for every foot of vessel length. When in doubt, err on the long side.
BURGEE: The EYC burgee may be displayed 24 hours a day. It is flown at the bow(stem) of power boats from either a deck or pulpit mounted staff. On sailboats it is flown from the top(truck) of the forward most mast or optionally from the starboard main spreader. No other flag is flown on the same halyard with the burgee (see exception under FLAG OFFICER'S FLAG). The masthead versus starboard spreader policy varies from club to club. At EYC either is acceptable. However, a purist will fly the burgee from the masthead. This is done by using a "pig stick" that is long enough to clear masthead electronics. The choice is yours. The length of the burgee on the fly should be approximately one half inch for every foot of sailboat mast height above the water. On power boats the burgee should be at least one half inch for every foot of boat length. Again, when in doubt, err on the long side. If you elect to fly a state flag, it may be flown in place of the EYC burgee either at the masthead or starboard spreader by a citizen of that state unless doing so is prohibited by law.
PRIVATE SIGNAL: Private signals may be displayed in place of the burgee in the above described positions. Additionally, power boats with midship flag masts and sailboats with two or more masts have the option of displaying both the burgee and the private signal in separate locations; and on single masted sailboats flying the burgee at the masthead, the private signal may be flown from the starboard spreader. On power boats, the private signal may be flown from a midship flag mast while the burgee is flown at the bow. On two masted sailboats it is displayed at the top(truck) of the aftermost mast. If more than two masts, it is displayed at the top of the main mast. The relatively new battle flag phenomenon is an accepted variation of the private signal. For this there are no set rules of protocol. The usual display is a large rectangular flag flown from the headstay of a sailing vessel, when not under sail, and generally during organized sailing events. It may contain class, manufacturer, or private signal designs.
FLAG OFFICER'S FLAG: Flag Officer's and Past Commodore's flags may be displayed in place of, and instead of, the private signal. In addition, and in the spirit of "expanding and modernizing the concept", EYC has opted to allow these, and only these flags, to be flown below the burgee at the starboard main spreader, should the club officer elect not to go the pig stick route. This provides a way for the flag officer, with a single masted sailing vessel, to display both the burgee and flag officer flag. On power boats, these flag officer flags may be flown from a midship flag mast.
UNION JACK: If you have a Union Jack, it may be flown (while at anchor or moored, not underway) from a jack staff at the bow from 0800 to sundown on Sundays and holiday or when dressing ship. You are considered to be pretty classy if you fly the Union Jack properly.
COURTESY FLAG: When traveling in foreign waters or visiting a foreign port, the national flag of the country being visited should be flown. It is not only good manners to fly the "courtesy flag", it is an absolute necessity in countries that take flag etiquette seriously. It must be smaller than the yacht's own national ensign and is flown from the starboard main spreader or from the bowstaff if the yacht has no mast. No other flag is flown on the same halyard as the courtesy flag, lest one appear to subordinated to the other.
DRESSING SHIP: Pleasure boats, not underway, may dress ship on national holidays and other specified special occasions by hanging International Code signal flags from their masts to the bow and stern. You are really correct if your code flags extend to the water below the bow and stern if there is overhang. Only code flags are used in this hoist. The ensign, burgee, private signals and union jack fly in their usual places. The recommended code flag sequence that produces a harmonious color pattern is: AB2, UJ1, KE3, GH6, IV5, FL4, DM7, PO, Third Repeater, RN, First Repeater, ST Zero, CX9, WQ8, ZY, Second Repeater.
One of joys of cruising is that we have very few rules (we don't need a 200 page book like the racers, nor do we have a Protest Committee). However, it's useful to have a few guidelines.
I. Cruise Scheduling
Cruise details are posted on the EYC website and in the weekly EYC e-mail Newsblasts and in the View From the Bridge newsletter each month. Lat/Long will be posted to web site at least one week prior to cruise.
Each cruise has a cruise coordinator, who arranges details and logistics.
Cruisers are flexible and dislike stormy weather or long beats to windward, so sometimes last minute changes or cancellations do occur. Therefore, please let the cruise coordinator know that you are coming. That way, we'll let you know if there is a change of plans. AND if your plans change, let the cruise coordinator know, so we don't look for you.
The role of the cruise coordinator for a raft-up: (1) try to arrive by 1500 hr (3 p.m.) to select an anchorage, (2) if you have a smaller boat, you won’t have to be the anchor boat; recruit a larger boat, and (3) monitor VHF channel 71 and your cell phone.
Depending on expected weather and the number of boats participating, several rafts may be needed or you might choose to anchor separately. Therefore, bringing a dinghy (or hitching a ride on someone else's) is always a good idea.
When approaching a club raft, you will usually find one boat designated as the cruise host boat, or primary anchor boat. Look to the skipper of this boat, or designee, for direction as to which side of the raft to join. The boat joining the raft provides lines and fenders, having two large fenders in position plus bow and stern lines made up with loops to pass to the raft. The loops or eye splices are made fast by the receiving crew, then adjustments are made by the approaching crew. Fore and aft spring lines should be ready to go from the approaching boat as soon as the bow and stern lines are secure.
Before departing a raft, always advise the anchor boat. Your departure could alter the balance of the raft. If you leave from an inboard position, always back away assisting the crews on each side in passing their lines across your bow as you back down.
Should the weather be stormy or even questionable, the anchor boat may request that the raft disband before nightfall. Therefore, be sure to bring a good anchor and be prepared to use it
The raft ups are BYOB and bring an appetizer/dish to share. Start @ 1600 hr (4:00 p.m.) Bring some dishes, utensils, and glasses, since the club doesn't usually provide them.
III. Land-based events
Please make your own arrangements if a marina is being visited.
If a restaurant is being used, please tell the cruise coordinator you are coming. If you need to cancel, make sure the coordinator knows, so he can cancel your place and so we don't get a bad reputation from the restaurant.
Some land-based events, such as the Wye River event on Memorial Day or the Gourmet cruise, do not require any reservations.
DRESS CODE AT THE CLUBHOUSE
EYC FORMAL: Yes, there is such a thing as "EYC Formal" and it is just that, EYC Formal. Thus far, it has defied any "formal" definition. And, any attempt to define it could run the risk of stifling creativity. Therefore it continues to be what you make it. It is easy to experience; just come to any EYC Formal event and look around. You'll find it to be an evolving and dynamic experience.
Enjoy! And have phun as you practice Protocol, EYC style.