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Skippers Corner – Burgees versus Massive Flags!

We love our country. We all do! You may love certain politicians.
That’s your right. You are proud to project that we are Italian, Irish, Israeli, British, etc.? It’s great we live in a country where we can display how we feel as long as it does not interfere with the peaceful rights of expression of our fellow citizens. (As Thomas Jefferson noted.)
However, there is a boating trend of late that presents “a clear and present danger” to all boaters. That danger is “FLAGS”!!! Big ones!
During boating season, oversized flags displayed from so many boats on our bays, L.I. Sound and favorite anchoring coves have become a credible issue. Let me explain why.
You know those small flags flying from the stem of boats. They are often most no bigger small than 9” x 12” American flags or yacht club flags identifying the club you belong to. There are also those showing Minnie Mouse, marlin, and mermaids. These small flags are called “Burgees”. Burgees are small so as not to impair the captain and his lookout’s vision. Even on the largest aircraft carriers and battleships, when they do fly large flags, position them so as not to impair the vision of helm, bow, midship and stern lookouts, and believe me, they are always out there watching.
I have witnessed small to midsize pleasure and fishing boats racing across crowded weekend waters with full size 3 ft x 5 ft flags and much larger streaming from the bow, all four rod holders, the radio antenna, and both outriggers at once. All the poles meanwhile are bending down to the breaking point as these “I gotta’ make a statement” sailors careen toward life imperiling disaster. I sit on my vessel and watch their lack of seamanship and common sense. It puts me into a state of “What the….” because I know this need of some people on our waters, to “Make a statement”, will kill or cause injury to an innocent person who was boating for relaxation and not to display their politics.
On our waters, it is most important to have a clear, unobstructed vision, at all times. Even if you can see around your boat occasionally as your mammoth flags flutter, guess what, that just doesn’t cut it. In half a second your flag blocked your vision, unexpected dangers can pop up, and sadly, because you had to make your political statement, someone gets hurt or worse. I dare say, political statements belong at railroad stations, government buildings, and public parks, and there I say “Have at it” as long as you’re not in someone’s face. Meanwhile, keep the giant, vision impeding flags off your boat underway, and Never! Never! Refuse a boater’s help because of their politics or race. If you don’t think you cannot do that, then get off the water!!!!
See You on the Waters! Look for my little Burgee!
Captain Eddie