Inner Harbor Yacht Club

Established 1963

Flag Etiquette

From time to time Inner Harbor Yacht Club (and other yacht clubs) get inquires from people who think we are displaying the US Flag incorrectly.  The problem is that people are confusing the IHYC gaff-rigged pole with the more traditional single flag staff.  While on a single pole, the American flag should be in the top spot, which is the place of honor.  A gaff-rigged pole, however, with its seagoing origins, is different.  Because of the sails carried by ships of old, the flag of a nation couldn't be seen clearly if placed at the top of the mast.  Instead it was placed at the gaff peak, which juts out from the pole.  According to long-standing maritime tradition, the gaff is the position of honor on a ship and thus is where the U.S. Flag should be flown.  Yachting organizations, following the tradition of the seas, erect land-based, gaff-rigged flagpoles and fly the U.S. Flag at the gaff as well, feeling that the gaff is the position of honor on the pole. 

We suggest visiting the websites for Chapman's Piloting, the New York Yacht Club, or simply Googling "flag etiquette" if you still think it's improper.  Below is this link to the United States Power Squadron website, which also explains this:

http://www.usps.org/f_stuff/etiquett.html