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A private signal is a custom-designed flag used to symbolize and identify the owner of a boat.[1] They generally have a swallowtail shape but may instead be rectangular or sometimes triangular.[2] Private signal tradition is drawn from heraldry but typically does not incorporate intricate designs from a family crest.

EtiquetteEdit

A private signal may be hoisted while underway and at anchor, day or night, but not while racing.[3] Power boats fly the owners' private signal at the top of the main-mast head or from a short staff on the bow called a bow staff. On a sailboat the private signal is flown using a pig stick hoisted to the top of the main-mast or mizzen-mast.[4][5]

HistoryEdit

From as far back as 4000 BC, Egyptian captains of the Nile would identify themselves to passing ships by placing a clay figurine atop their ships’ aftermost cabin.[6]

The Romans used private signals quite often. At sea off Marseilles in 49 BC, the famous Roman Brutus hoisted his private signal during a battle against the Massilians of Pompeii. Primary documents say the Massilians recognized his “flamboyant” signal, so his ship narrowly escaped being rammed simultaneously by two triremes.[7]

In the Middle Ages private signals were used extensively at sea. The Bayeux Tapestry of 1150 AD shows “Mora,” the ship of William, Duke of Normandy, as it flew a white banner, bordered in blue and bearing a golden cross. Other knights in the tapestry boast their own private signals.[8]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Rousmaniere, John (1989). The Annapolis Book of Seamanship (2 ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 366, 367. ISBN 978-0-67167447-2.
  2. ^ Chapman Piloting Seamanship and Boat Handling. Hearst Marine Books. 1999. p. 585. ISBN 0-688-16890-6.
  3. ^ Rousmaniere, John (1989). The Annapolis Book of Seamanship (2 ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster. pp. 366, 367. ISBN 978-0-67167447-2.
  4. ^ Rousmaniere, John (1989). The Annapolis Book of Seamanship (2 ed.). New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 367. ISBN 978-0-67167447-2.
  5. ^ Chapman Piloting Seamanship and Boat Handling. Hearst Marine Books. 1999. p. 584. ISBN 0-688-16890-6.
  6. ^ Broome, Jack (1955). Make a Signal. Putnam.
  7. ^ Broome, Jack (1955). Make a Signal. Putnam.
  8. ^ Broome, Jack (1955). Make a Signal. Putnam.