|Minima YC Burgee - handmade by moi|
Before we left the UK I looked at purchasing flags for the countries we would probably visit - Morocco, Cape Verdes, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and a fair few more. At several pounds sterling apiece the quantity of flags required could suddenly become a major budget item especially if we spent any time cruising the Caribbean or Pacific.
|Materials and templates for Grenada's courtesy flag|
The first flag Temptress requires is for the Cape Verdes as Jo kindly purchased a Moroccan one as a present for the boat in Baiona and the Canaries are part of Spain which we already had on board. Now the CV's flag is very straightforward - a navy rectangle with a white stripe superimposed by a red one about a third of the way up from the lower edge. Before it could be cut out however I needed to learn about sizes and proportions of a flag. Flag making is an ancient art a bit like heraldry so the terms are archaic but fun. From the internet I gleaned the following:
- The height of a flag is called the hoist and the length the fly.
- The shape of a flag is defined by the proportion of one to the other - usually the fly is two times the hoist to give a neat rectangle but may be less eg 1.5 times.
- Use the height of the mast to calculate how tall the ideal hoist should be for your boat and you have a good idea how big to make the courtesy flag (roughly half an inch per foot of mast height)
- Cheat a bit - firstly simplify the detail as it won't be seen flying at some twenty feet above the average head on the pontoon.
- Secondly scale things down (checking the bought flags we already owned most seem to be around 30 cm or 12 inches high) and change the proportions too if you can - I've used 1.5 x the hoist for the fly of both the courtesy flags I've made so far and they look perfectly ok - this way you use less material.
- You are probably only going to be in a country for a week or two meaning the flag doesn't have to last through endless sun or several gales so construction doesn't have to be bullet proof.
- Use fabric paints to create any vital detail that is too fiddly for fabric (eg the Union flag on the UK ensign)
- For UK territories, buy a UK ensign, paint the defacing charge or emblem onto white cloth then attach to the ensign!
|Cape Verdes - simple blue rectangle with stripes|
After the Cape Verdes with our change of cruising plan Grenada looks like the next flag we'll need and it is probably the most complex flag after the UK ensign that any flag maker will encounter. After taking whole day to create a template for the triangles, cut the parts out and stitch it I realised quite why courtesy flags are so expensive. The rectangular "ground" is made of two green and two yellow triangles all bordered in red. Then there is a red circle with a yellow star at the centre and a nutmeg in the green triangle at the hoist end plus a series of stars along the border top and bottom. All these components have a significance however only the circle and the nutmeg are prominent but I omitted the stars as they'll hardly be seen when it is up the mast.
here. It's been a while since I tackled mitred corners but with some internet assistance I managed four passable ones and the doubled over border strengthens the whole. A couple of circles and "nutmegs" (made from freehand drawn cut outs in red and yellow, two sets one for each side) zigzag stitched on both sides completed the days work. It may not be the neatest bit of sewing I've ever done but I'm extremely pleased with the result. The hoist was bound with cheap 1 inch tape enclosing a length of recycled boat string (in a bid to reduce costs further). After this the flags of St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia should be a doddle!