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Just over a year ago I wrote about purchasing a courtesy flag for the US. Like the charts we have been struggling to acquire*, we perhaps should have gone the extra mile and worked to obtain flags for the other islands for points south of here. I know why I didn’t though. It’s because they are expensive! We have been asking on the morning radio net to see if any boats here are looking to unload some. Thus far we have come up with a flag for the Dominican Republic and St. Martin. That only leaves about 20 more that we need to find, or failing that, sew them!

*Our chart situation should be sorted out. We had a friend pick up paper charts for us in Toronto and Rebecca will be picking them up when she returns to Canada later today. The chips for our chartplotter will also be picked up by another cruiser here and we should have those in our possession by the 14th as well.


  1. Hey Mike,

    When I wanted to get flags for the dojo for Canada / Brazil / Japan and then all the countries I had been too I ended up buying them via ebay as they were ridiculously cheap compared to elsewhere ($1.99-$4.99 for a 1m x 2m flag).

    I haven’t looked in a while but when I did last I know there were marine flags as well as I looked for a friend of mine who was sailing south as well (they were more expensive than regular flags – about $9.99 as I recall) but that should be cheaper than via a conventional seller no?

  2. Rebecca:

    So very sorry to learn of your mom’s untimely death. Some things in this life are simply inexplicable and, as we know, just plain unfair.

    Take care as you travel to Ontario. If you need anything from here, please don’t hesitate to call or write.

    Best to you and Mike, and hope you’ll soon be back to the great adventure!


  3. What happens if you Dont fly a courtesy flag? Could you just fly the British flag for all British Islands? A US flag for all US Islands? French flag for all French Islands, etc?

  4. I think Seth and Jaime had a good way to save some cash – they painted their flags. I think they used fabric paint.

  5. I guess you know that you are a real cruiser when you have this problem.

    We have but one courtesy flag on Eolian: Canada


  6. Nothing ‘happens’ when you don’t fly the courtesy flag. At worst, you might get a little extra attention from a militant customs inspector, but I think even this is just conjecture. Of all of the books I’ve read on cruising on a budget, those cruisers usually just sew their own. Personally, I think i would sweat it too much.

  7. andy & sonja cru-zinacatamaran - Reply

    Hi mike , Rebecca i seen curtesy flags that had been printed on A4 size paper & had been laminated & attached / geld to some material & they look fine as they are a curtsy flag so only needed to be there for a few weeks. Thats another way of trying things that are cheeper.

  8. As Scott said, truly nothing happens. Courtesy flags are a holdover from the age of sail. The only “hassle” we had was in Grenada from a boat boy whose primary business was selling……courtesy flags(!!) (we were flying a pre-invasion courtesy flag that belonged to Susan’s step-dad).

    Customs officials NEVER looked at our boat, most are stuffed inside an office anyway. When/if you go to Colombia, you will probably be boarded by the Coast Guard, but that is mostly to intimidate you into offering a bit of a bribe or to give them the chance to take something of “value” while you’re being distracted by an officer.

    We have seen flags made out of all sorts of stuff, including duct tape and painted cardboard.

    Fair Winds,

  9. I’ve also heard of cruisers making their own with indelible markers. Sewing, of course, is more permanent. You might get some practice with the sewing machine or your artistic abilities! Maybe you could blow up those picures on your computer and print out the flag just like they do tee shirts!

  10. I LOVE the idea of painting your own with acrylic paints. Sounds like a fun project to do under the shade of the Bimini, sitting in the cockpit with a cold drink at hand and a cooling breeze wafting over you.

    I have far too vivid an imagination. I can just put myself right in that place and, MAN, does it feel good. I miss boating!!!

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