You may have noticed that there are several photos of flags dotted about the surroundings pages. Our boat is British registered so we fly a large red ensign on the stern. But, what those of you not part of the boaty world may not know, is that while visiting the waters of another country it is customary to fly a smaller version of their flag from your starboard shroud (bit of rigging). These are called ‘courtesy flags’ and, rather than simple good manners, in some places you will be fined if you don’t fly one.


Now, courtesy flags bought new cost in the region of £15 a pop. If you have been following our travels much you will be vaguely aware that we’ve been to a country or two since embarking on this trip. In fact, at time of writing we have been to 14 countries since leaving the UK. We were fortunate enough to inherit a bunch of flags when buying the boat which included Spanish, Portuguese and French courtesy flags plus a whole surplus of out of date regatta and race flags.


So, rather than buy a new one for a country we only visit for a week or so, James and I, in true make do and mend fashion, have been making our own. The old regatta flags have come in handy and most countries have fairly straightforward designs which are easy to replicate (remember, we both have Fine Art degrees) but some, such as the parrot needed for Dominica, are a bit more involved.


Those that we have made so far are:

Morocco, Dominica, Antigua, St Kitts & Nevis and Sint Maarten (Gran Canaria and Ceuta are Spanish; we were bought a St Lucian flag by Lis and Paul; and Martinique, Guadeloupe and the Saintes are all French of course). The only noticeable country missing from the list is Statia (St Eustatius) where we were naughty and neither made nor flew a courtesy flag as we were only there for 16 hours!


These started out as quick bodge jobs, made underway with a few scraps and a pot of glue. As we travel on they have become carefully crafted works of art, with the two salty sea dogs trying to outdo one another with our beautiful creations (I am particularly proud of my Antigua and St Kitts & Nevis efforts…). Plus, with a saving of £15 each time, there’s a lot of satisfaction when you hoist one of these lovely things and know that there is money in your pocket to be spent elsewhere.