You think you can just ‘drive’ your barge up the Thames for the weekend and moor it against a handy buoy? Oh, No, No, No, NO! This is a Proper River with a serious port and the weekend is a State Occasion in honour of Her Majesty the Queen. There are procedures and protocols to follow, son! I have to admit to a guilty smile when I hear about some of the hoops we have to jump through to show off our barge but I love that we are part of it all and I love that we are a ‘serious’ organisation and that our Chairman is the esteemed Rear Admiral Bruce Richardson CB FNI.
Boss of Volunteers, Basil e-mails me with some detail on the ‘hoops’ of which I was completely unaware. Did you know for example that you don’t just string up a load of bunting round your barge; there are even Correct Naval Procedures for hanging bunting. The International Code Flags are used to “DRESS” ship. In nautical practice, it is said that the flags are ‘worn’ and not ‘flown’ by the vessel. Officer’s flags, club burgees and national flags are not used as part of the bunting. The ship is dressed at 0800 and remains dressed (at anchor only, except for a vessel’s maiden or final voyage) until evening colours at sunset.
The ‘hoist’ is done in the following sequence . . .
- The yacht ensign or national ensign at the stern staff
- Courtesy flag (if in foreign port) on starboard flag halyard
- The Union Jack may be displayed at the bow staff
- Club or fleet or association burgee on a pig stick to masthead or to the ‘starboard spreader’, alone, on its own and separate flag halyard
- A rainbow of International Code flags are then arranged from the waterline forward ‘up and over’ (that is to all mast heads) to the waterline aft. Flags and pennants are bent on alternately. Since there are twice as many letter flags as numeral/repeater pennants, it is good practice to follow a sequence of two flags, one pennant, two flags, one pennant, etc. A weight is used as a sinker at each end of the string of flags at the waterline fore and aft.
The sequence of the code flags can be any order but the following is the long accepted ‘recommended order’ to give a harmonious colour pattern. This also avoids the possibility of a hidden message being set in the hoist.
Starting from the waterline forward, to the masthead(s), and to the water line aft . . .
A B 2 U J 1 K E 3 G H 6 I V 5 F L 4 D M 7 P O Third Repeater R N First Repeater S T Zero C X 9 W Q 8 Z Y Second Repeater
So now you know! Basil tells me that we were the only barge who ‘Dressed all Over’ correctly although some other barges “had a reasonable go at it”.
More on this tomorrow.