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Flag and Etiquette Committee
Flag Etiquette

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"Q" - I Request Pratique

Pratique - def. "License or permission to use a port, given to a ship after quarantine or on showing a clean bill of health".

When an American boat crosses the national boundaries of the United States to visit a foreign port, or a foreign-yacht visits an American port, certain customs, immigration, and other regulations must be obeyed. As a result of various provisions and exemptions applying to yachts, not to vessels engaged in trade, the procedure has been so simplified that there is nothing in these legal requirements to deter a recreational craft from enjoying a cruise outside U.S. waters. There are severe penalties, however, for failure to observe the regulations that do apply.

On arrival at a foreign port, the owner or captain of a yacht (any size) should report to the authorities. The "Q" flag (plain yellow) should be flown where it can be easily seen-starboard spreader, radio antenna, fishing outrigger, etc.- to indicate that the vessel desires to be boarded by customs and other governmental authorities. When reporting, the crew and guests must remain aboard until permission (pratique) has been granted to land.

Once pratique has been granted, the "Q" flag may be lowered and the courtesy flag of that nation may be hoisted.

Traditionally, quarantine flags are not used for trips between the United States and Canada on the Great Lakes.

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