Yacht Routine


I. Flags and Signals
1. Ensign

When a yacht is in commission and manned the following routine and etiquette shall be observed:

The United States ensign is displayed between morning and evening colors except that yachts that will be unmanned at color time shall make evening colors beforehand.

(a) When at anchor (At anchor as used throughout means while not under way), at the stern staff. Sailing yachts with overhanging booms locate the stern staff on the starboard side of the boom.

(b) When under way in inland waters and when meeting or passing other vessels on the high seas, weather and rig permitting:

  1. By power yachts with gaff, at the gaff.
  2. By power yachts without gaff, at the stern staff.
  3. By gaff-rigged sailing yachts, at the after peak.
  4. By marconi-rigged sailing yachts, at the leach of the aftermost sail, approximately two-thirds the length of the leach above the clew.
  5. Sailing yachts when not racing may display the ensign at the stern staff.

(c) The ensign shall never be made up and broken out.

2. Burgee

The burgee is displayed whenever (Except as otherwise herein provided. ) the ensign is hoisted but may also be displayed separately between morning and evening colors or by day and night, at anchor or under way by:

  1. Mastless yachts or single-masted yachts with bow staff, at the bow staff.
  2. Single-masted yachts without bow staff, at the truck.
  3. Yachts with two or more masts, at the foremost truck.

3. Private Signal

The private signal may be displayed between morning and evening colors or by day and night by:

  1. Mastless yachts when under way, at the bow staff in place of the burgee.
  2. Single-masted yachts with bow staff, at anchor or under way, at the truck.
  3. Single-masted yachts without bow staff, when under way, at the truck in place of the burgee.
  4. Yachts with two masts, at the aftermost truck.
  5. Yachts with more than two masts, at the main truck.

4. Flag Officer’s Flag

A Flag Officer shall display his flag day and night in the place and instead of his private signal or in the case of a single-masted yacht instead of the burgee. except when racing or displaying the burgee of another club or the Race Committee’s flag.

5. Fleet Captain’s Flag

The Fleet Captain displays his flag between morning and evening colors at the bow staff in small boats while performing the duties of his office.

6. Union Jack

The Union Jack may be displayed at the jack staff between morning and evening colors and only when at anchor on Sundays and holidays or when dressing ship.

7. Absent Flag

A rectangular blue flag may be displayed at the starboard main spreader (When yachts are rigged with yards the word “yardarm” shall be substituted for “spreader” as used throughout. ) at anchor or under way when the owner is not on board. An absent signal does not exempt a yacht from observance of prescribed routine.

8. Guest Flag

A rectangular blue flag with a white diagonal stripe from top of hoist to bottom of fly may be displayed at the starboard main spreader at anchor or under way when guests are aboard during the absence of the owner.

9. Night or Wind Pennant

A blue pennant may be displayed at the main truck from evening to morning colors and at all times when no other flags are flown.

10. Other Flags

Flags authorized by naval, military or recognized yachting organizations may be displayed at option in accordance with their respective regulations.

11. Racing

While racing, yachts shall comply with pertinent sections of the Racing Rules, and any specific instructions of Race Committees, where these conflict with any provisions of this Yacht Routine.

12. Size of Flags

The sizes of flags are optional, but all flags should conform to size of yacht and staff at which they are displayed.

(a) The ensign should approximate a minimum of one inch on the fly per foot of overall length, with a hoist of twothirds of the fly.

(b) The burgee, private signal and Flag Officer’s flag should approximate onehalf inch on the fly of each foot of height of the highest truck above the water on sailing yachts, and for each foot of overall length on power yachts. The hoist shall be two-thirds of the fly.

(c) The night pennant should approximate three-quarters of an inch on the fly for each foot of height of truck above the water, with a hoist of one-tenth of the fly.

13. Order of Colors

When making colors short handed, the ensign shall be hoisted first, followed as rapidly as possible by the club burgee and the private signal. Flags are lowered in inverse order. Colors are hoisted smartly but lowered ceremoniously. Flag Officers’ flags though normally displayed day and night may be lowered and hoisted at colors.


II. Colors and Time
1. Yachts and shore stations shall make colors at 0800 and at sunset.

2. Time shall be taken from the senior officer present.

3. In making colors, the yacht always represents the rank of her owner, whether he is on board or not.

4. When in company with a vessel of the United States Navy or Coast Guard, or at a United States Naval or Coast Guard Station, or in the home anchorage of another club. time shall be taken from such vessel, station or club.

5. Yachts shall take time for striking bells as prescribed in the preceding paragraphs.

6. Entering Port Before or After Colors

On entering or leaving port before or after the time for making colors, a yacht shall display her flags provided there is sufficient light for them to be recognized. Colors shall be lowered promptly after anchoring or after leaving port.

7. Half-Masting Flags

The ensign is half-masted only on occasions of national mourning. On Memorial Day the ensign is half-masted from 0800 to 1200. On
the death of the yacht owner, the burgee and private signal are half-masted on his yacht. When mourning is ordered for the death of a member, other members’ yachts at anchor, the Clubhouse and stations shall half-mast the burgee only.

If not previously hoisted, flags shall be first mast-headed and then lowered to half-mast.


III. Boats
1. Precedence

Upon entering and leaving boats, deference is shown seniors by juniors entering first and leaving last.

2. Boarding and Leaving Yachts

Owners and guests board and leave from the starboard side. Crew and service boats use the port side.

3. Boat Flags

When in boats, Flag Officers display their flags, captains their private signals, and members the burgee. When on duty the Fleet Captain and Race Committee display their distinctive flags. The flag of the senior officer embarked has precedence. When two boats are approaching the same gangway or landing stage, Flag Officers shall have the right of way in order of seniority.


IV Procedure
1. Official Visit of a Flag Officer

When a Flag Officer makes an official visit, his flag, if senior to that of the yacht boarded, shall be displayed at the starboard spreader while he is on board.

2. Unofficial Presence of a Flag Officer

A Flag Officer embarked in a boat, not displaying his distinctive flag, should be considered as present in an unofficial capacity.

3. Distinguished Visitors

A yacht should display the personal flag of a national, state or municipal officer, or the national ensign of the country of a distinguished foreign visitor, when such a person is on board. This flag is displayed in place of the private signal or Flag Officer’s flag for the President of the United States, and for all other officials and visitors by:

  1. Mastless yachts, at the bow staff
  2. Single-masted yachts, at the starboard spreader
  3. Yachts with two or more masts. at the foremost starboard spreader.

4. Dressing Ship

On Memorial Day. the Fourth of July and Labor Day and when ordered on other occasions, a yacht in commission shall, when at anchor and the weather permits, dress ship from moming to evening colors. Rectangular flags should be as far as possible alternate with pennants. Ensigns, burgees, private signals and Flag Officers’ flags shall not be included among code flags and pennants in the hoist in dressing ship.

5. Home Waters

The home waters of the Club embrace all waters from Riverhead to Gardiner’s Island.

6. When Visiting Ports of Other Nations

Between morning and evening colors. when at anchor or under way. the foreign national ensign is displayed by:

  1. Mastless yachts, at the bow staff.
  2. Single-masted yachts. at the starboard spreader.
  3. Yachts with two or more masts. at the foremost starboard spreader. Departure from the foregoing provisions may be made to conform to local customs.

7. Shore Stations

The mast is considered the mast of a ship standing out to sea.

(a) The United States yacht ensign may be displayed between morning and evening colors:

  1. On a mast with gaff and yard, at the gaff.
  2. On a mast with gaff, at the gaff.
  3. On a mast with yard, at the masthead. (4) On a bare mast, at the masthead.

(b) The burgee is displayed between morning and evening colors:

  1. On a mast with gaff and yard, at the masthead.
  2. On a mast with gaff, at the masthead.
  3. On a mast with yard, at the masthead in place of the United States yacht ensign.
  4. On a bare mast, at the masthead in place of the United States yacht ensign. In the case of a mast without a gaff, the United States yacht ensign may be displayed on a separate mast.

(c) Honors are paid a foreign visitor by displaying his national ensign simultaneously with the United States yacht ensign, between morning and evening colors, in the case of:

  1. A mast with gaff and yard, at the starboard yardarm with the United States yacht ensign at the gaff.
  2. A mast with gaff, on a separate mast at the level of the United States yacht ensign.
  3. A mast with yard, at the port yardarm with the United States yacht ensign at the starboard yardarm and the burgee at the masthead.
  4. A bare mast, at the head of one or two separate staffs of equal height, the United States yacht ensign being displayed at the head of the staff on the right facing the sea.

(d) The flag of the senior Flag Officer present may be displayed at the starboard yardarm, between morning and evening colors, during his presence on the grounds.

8. Harbor Starts

When the flagship signals -Harbor Start. – the procedure leaving port shall be yachts of Flag Officers in order of rank. except for the Race Committee vessel when proceeding to station.

9. Night Signal

The night signal of this Club has been registered with the Commissioner of Commerce and Labor, at Washington. in the following form:

Red light forward, white light amidships and red light aft: or, as it will appear at the Club Station. lights burning red. white and red, hung perpendicularly.