Friday, April 29, 2016

FLASHBACK: The True Yachtsman Guide To Flag Etiquette for Opening Day

I wrote this story in 2007:

According to naval regulations, a flag officer is anyone who holds the rank of rear admiral and higher. Applying that reasoning to yacht clubs, only the commodore, vice commodore and the rear commodore have a clear claim to the title of flag officer. A past commodore has less of a claim, and a fleet captain, secretary and treasurer have no real claim at all.
Yachting and Customs and courtesies by Joseph Tringali.

When two boats are approaching the same gangway or landing stage, flag officers shall have the right of way in order of seniority.

Piloting seamanship and small boat handling “Chapman’s”

Distress: Though not official, flying the US Ensign upside down is universally recognized as a distress signal.

Transportation: Code flag “T” is used to call the club tender.

When cruising away from home waters, the wise yachtsman keeps a sharp eye out for local customs. It is a mark of courtesy to conform to local procedures and practices. While visiting at a yacht club of which you are not a member, observe the actions and routines of the local owner-members, and particularly the club officers. This is especially important with the respect to evening colors. Not all clubs strictly calculate the daily time of sunset, and some may be earlier than you would normally expect. If you will be off your boat at the time of evening colors be sure to take down your flags before you leave your boat.

That pesky clock which no one ever seems fully to understand is based on the concept of watches: not wristwatches, but ship’s watches. The ship’s day is divided into six four-hour ‘watches’ beginning with the period from 8:00 P.M. to midnight, which is called the ‘first watch’. For the record, the names of the watches are:
8:00 Pm to midnight First watch
Midnight to 4 AM Midnight Watch 135
4:00 am to 8:00 Morning Watch
8:00 am to Noon Forenoon Watch
Noon to 4:00 pm Afternoon Watch
4:00 pm to 8:00pm Evening watch

Now for the bells: A junior member of the crew, usually a cabin boy, was assigned to the task of keeping track of the length of the ‘watch’ by turning a sand-filled hour glass and to make this just a little more complicated, the glass needed to be turned every thirty minutes. The boy was ordered to ring the bell once for each time he turned the glass. Thus, one bell repents 8:30pm two bells 9:00 pm, three bells 9:30. Etc. At eight bells, four hours, the watch changed, and a new cabin boy took over, ringing the bell once at thirty minutes after beginning of his watch and continuing as described through the entire four-hour period.

Absolute purists will note the 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm evening watch is usually dived into two ‘dogs’ known as the ‘first dog’ watch, from 4:00 PM to 6:00 pm and the second ‘dog watch”, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The word ‘dog’ in this instance has nothing to do with a four-legged canine; rather, it is ‘dog’ in archaic sense that we might today use the word ‘jog’ or ‘skip’. ‘ Dogging’ the watch allowed the crew to eat their evening meal, which generally was the only full meal of the day, between the hours of 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. One-half of the crew was at the table while the other half was at work. No special arrangement is made for the bells during the dogged watch: they continue as before, adding one bell every half hour until the watch ends at 8:00 pm
One final note on ship’s bell is recorded by Lieutenant Commander Lovette and provides an interesting idea for yacht club New Year’s Eve party:
An old custom, once strictly observed, was that of having the oldest man in the ship, be he the admiral or jack-of-the-dust, strike eight bells at midnight, on December thirty-first. This was immediately followed by eight bells for the New Year and always struck by the youngest boy on board. It was, of course, the only time of the year when sixteen bells were struck.

Piloting seamanship and small boat handling “Chapman’s”
Yachting and Customs and courtesies by Joseph Tringali.
Yachting Protocol Guidelines by SCYA

Most yacht clubs have an area set aside as a memorial for the club’s past commodores. Regardless of the form it takes, the purpose of the past commodore’s memorial is something more than feeding the egos of the select few by recognizing a group of individuals whom most people remember vaguely and whom new members may know not at all. It is in the nature of a yacht club to maintain a closer tie to its roots than almost any other kind of club. The memorial, past picture books, photographs, is a continuing link with the club’s past. It is one of the many traditions, which make a yacht club unique

In the past I have noticed visiting yacht club with more than half of the participants flying the wrong flags in the wrong places. Yacht clubs should also ask the visiting club’s to bring their flag so that we can fly the visiting clubs flag. Proper flag etiquette shows other clubs and yachtsman just what your club is all about. Final words, Flags are not flown for appearance; they convey definite and well-accepted meaning. There may be some debate on whether or when a particular flag should be flown, the byword must always be, “ Less is more”

Flag Time
With few exceptions vessels shall make colors only between the hours of 0800 and sunset. All colors should be struck at sundown, which includes yacht club burgees, fun flags, fish catch flags, code flags for dressing ship, etc. For our opening day chairs, all boats displaying colors, private signals, code flags, etc before 0800 on opening day should be noted and assumed that all colors were flown overnight.

Private Signal: The owner of the vessel designs a flag. Usually a tapered, swallowtail pennant, but sometimes a rectangle or triangle. The tradition of the private pennant signal, or "house flag," currently used dates back to the 18th and 19th century when the sailing ship lines were at their peak. Many line owners were yachtsmen and carried their "house flags" to their yachts. Many members of the older yacht clubs have "house flags" that have been passed down for generations. It is flown in place of the yacht club burgee, from the bow staff on mast less yachts, or from the top of the mainmast on sailing vessels. On todays racing yachts they are flown under the yacht club burgee on the starboard side. Many private signals, particularly those of recent vintage, show symbols which are particularly related to the owners life; someone in computers might be distinguished by a cursor, for example; while others a play on words: the name "Seals" could be represented by a seal or a sun rising.

It is accepted practice that never more than one private signal is displayed at a time.
If a member does not have a private signal, one is recommended that is both simple and timeless in design and easily recognized from a distance to insure its continued use for future generations. Traditionally, initials were not used. May be flown by day only or day and night.

Bose Private Signal


All true yachtsmen should have on board an inventory of the proper flags and signals. The following is a list of suggested flags.

ENSIGN (mandatory)
Congress established the Yacht Ensign of 13 stars encircling an anchor in 1849. Also, the national colors (traditional Stars and Stripes) may be displayed in lieu of the ensign, particularly in foreign waters.

UNION JACK (optional)
A rectangular of the union of 50 stars on a blue field.

Usually a triangular or swallow – tailed pennant, which represents the owner’s yacht club.

The Catalina Conservancy Burgee may be flown in place of the yacht club burgee or beneath a yacht club burgee. The design of the Association’s Burgee was created in 1996.

OFFICERS Flags (mandatory)
A rectangular flag which represents the rank of the yacht club or association officer. Four flags are generally recognized in yacht clubs: Commodore, Vice Commodore, Rear Commodore, and Fleet Captain.

The Commodore’s Flag consists of a field of dark blue with white fouled anchor surrounded by thirteen white stars.

The Vice Commodore’s Flag consists of a field of red with white stars with a fouled anchor surrounded by thirteen white stars.

The Rear Commodore’s flag consists of a field of white stars with a red stars with a fouled anchor.

The Fleet Captain’s flag consists of a field of white with a dark blue fouled anchor.
Fleet Captain Flag

PRIVATE SIGNAL (recommended)
Usually a tapered, swallowtail pennant, but sometimes a rectangle or triangle. The tradition of the private signal, or “house flag” currently used dates back to the 18th and 19th century when the sailing ship lines were at their peak. Many line owners were yachtsman and carried their “house flags” that have been passed down for generations. If a member does not have a private signal, one is recommended that both simple and timeless in design and easily recognized from a distance to insure its continued use for the future generations. Traditionally, initials were not used.

Owners Absent (recommend): A dark blue rectangular signal. When hoisted, it can often save the frustration of rowing across the cove or harbor only to find the owner has gone ashore.

Owners Absent (recommended): A rectangular dark blue signal with a white diagonal stripe starting from the upper corner at the hoist.

Owners at Meal (optional): A white rectangular flag for those who care to dine understand. Also so known as a do not disturb sign.

Crews Meal ( optional) A red rectangular flag for that crew who care to dine understand. This is one of the only signals flown on the port side.

International Code Flags (optional)
A set of these signals is both practical for cruising and necessary for dressing ship. May be displayed for signaling using the “International code of Signals” for definition of the codes.

Racing Pennant (optional)
A distinctive pennant has been designed by the Sea Cliff (N.Y.) Yacht Club as an identifying signal for racing boats. The field is blue, with white fluorescent strip in the middle, and red anchor superimposed.

The tradition for over the past 100 years in yachting is that the Club (Association) Burgee be displayed on the bow staff or the truck using a staff or “pig stick.” The reason for these locations is for maximum visibility under sail, as well as at anchor.
In recent years, yacht clubs have opted the starboard spreader as an alternative location for the Burgee to accommodate yachts whose trucks are encumbered with wind indicators and electronic gear. However, the Burgee must be hoisted to the spreader (or “two-blocked”). Other flags may be hosted beneath the club Burgee, in the following order: Association Burgee (if a yacht club Burgee is also being flown, Officer’s flag, owners Flag, other message flags. Yachts at anchor must display the Ensign on a staff placed in a socket located on the starboard stern rail or pulpit as close to the centerline as feasible.

All flags should be of proper size for recognition and identification.
The fly (horizontal direction) shall be a Minimum of one inch per foot of overall length of overall length of the yacht, with the hoist (vertical direction) equal to two-thirds of the fly. Length overall should include bow platforms for the better proportions.

BURGEE, PRIVATE SIGNAL, OWNER ABSENT, OWNER AT MEAL, GUEST, CREW AT MEAL AND INTERNATIONAL CODE FLAGS. The fly shall be a minimum of one-half- inch per foot of the height of the highest truck, measured from the waterline, and with the hoist two-thirds of the fly.

On the forth of July and other special occasions, yachts may dress ship when at anchor. The international Code Flags are displayed from the waterline forward to the waterline aft, using weights at the end in the following order arranged to the effect color patterns throughout: Starting forward:AB2 UJ1, KE3, GH6, LV5, FL4, DM7, PO 3rd repeater, RN 1st repeater, ST0, CX9, WQ8, ZY 2nd repeater.

NOW that you have read this what the hell do you do with this information? Keep this site bookmarked and refer back. Purchase the listed flags for the yachtsman that has everything. Show everyone next season that you’re a true yachtsman and take the time to fly the proper signals.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Harbor Report: The man below the Duffy

By Len Bose
January 31, 2013 | 4:05 p.m

This week, I had the chance to meet with Gerardo Martinez, the service manager at the Duffy Electric Boat Company, located at 2439 West Coast Highway. Gerardo has been an employee of Duffy boats for 16 years.
When I walked in and introduced myself, I was warmly greeted, and when I asked Gerardo if he had time for an interview, a rather large smile appeared on his face, and he asked, "Why me?" I told him I had been asking around town, "Who was the Duffy guy to go to and help maintain your electric boat?" Everyone, without hesitation, would say "Gerardo." He agreed to the interview, and we double-checked with corporate to make sure everything would be OK.
Back in 1997, Gerardo started from the bottom of the boats, applying bottom paint, working for the dock crew and doing service runs. By 1999, he started in the service department, then moved over to service manager in the Huntington Harbour office in 2004. A couple of years later, he spent some time at the plant building boats and then was offered the job of service manager here in Newport Beach. "At that time, we had about 130 clients who had signed up for the Duffy Care service," he explained. "Now we have 850 clients from Long Beach to Newport, and with new boat sales, we have over 1,200 customers a year."
As service manager, he runs a crew of 28 people. Duffy Care consists of "making our customers happy with our product," Gerardo told me. This crew does everything for the Duffy owners who have signed up for Duffy Care, from monthly bottom-cleaning to top-to-bottom wash-down service and maintenance inspections.
"I make sure the crews get down to the boats and bring boats in that are due for bottom paint, carpet steam-cleaning or replacement of packing glands," he explained. The crews check on battery water level and make sure bilge pumps are working.
I, for one, can easily spot the boats that are in Duffy Care; they glow as you approach them.
"We have three brand new boats in the harbor to help service clients in a professional manner," Gerardo said.

While in the service office, I had a chance to meet accounting head Janet Brisky and manager Toni Olague. Gerardo told me that one of the most difficult things about his job was his clients trying to pronounce his name correctly. It seems to be a running joke in the office, and Janet has been keeping count of the different names used when inquiring for Gerardo. "We have a list of 28 names — would you like to hear some of them?" Janet asked. "We have Rodrigo, Ricardo, Gordo, Eldorado, Dorito and Guerrilla." The group laughed like a family at the dinner table as Janet kept reading down the list, and I was laughing too hard to remember all 28 names.
One thing is for sure: Gerardo is not going to forget his customers' names or their boats. He explained, "I might forget what to pick up at the store before I come home, but I have always been able to remember my customers and their boats."
When I left, I had that feeling like I was part of the family and that they would drop what they are doing to help a friend out. If you have a Duffy, give them a call and just say hello and become part of the family. Sea ya.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Its all about Karma with the wine you serve

Its Thursday April 21st 2016 and the main thing on my mind is the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race. I will be aboard the Santa Cruz 50 Horizon, the boat is ready and looking like she is doing ten knots of boat speed just sitting in her slip. Hope you all noticed Hannah Fry story “Newport to Ensenada yacht race sets sail Friday” in the Daily Pilot on Thursday the 21st.

I just sent out my final email to the crew reminding them to bring their passports and reviewed the food menu with them. Now our menu is not even in the same league as the Tres Gordo Sailing teams vessel It’s OK with its five course dinner and wine pairing. Their menu looks like it has been printed at Newport Stationers and handed out to each crew member on their arrival to the boat in the morning. The It’s OK menu  Lunch C'est Si Bon assorted sandwiches. Dinner Small Plates and Appetizers. Gulf Prawns with horseradish cocktail sauce. Spinach and Feta Cheese phyllo triangles (spanakopita), Bacon wrapped jalapeno “poppers”, Muldoons "Sindi Rae's" gourmet sliders, Warm pastry cheese sticks a la Pacific Club, Gilroy Valley Fresh Artichokes with spicy aioli, Assorted domestic and imported cheeses with gourmet cracker selection.
Wines are listed below (actual wine pairing with each item an ITS OK! secret)
2015 Fragile Catalan Rose
2013 Mer Soleil Santa Barbara Co. "Reserve" Chardonnay
2013 Beran California Zinfandel
2014 Runquist "Salman Vineyard", Clarksburg, Petite Syrah

Our crew receives an email and reads as follows  “I am headed out to provision the boat in a couple of hours, Great Mex breakfast burritos, C’est Si Bon sandwiches for lunch, home made Pasta Bake for dinner. For grazing food I will stop by Trader Joes for dried fruit, trail mix, chocolate covered espresso beans and a couple of others things that catch my eye. We will have instant coffee and hot chocolate along with a handle of Mount Gay Rum for our arrival.”

As I travel around town today the excitement level has been high with the two big trimarans in front of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, Marina Park has fifteen race boats in their guest slips and Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club docks are filled to capacity. The talk around town is always about the weather and this year looks like a better than average race. The true test on these participating yachtsman will not be the race it will be the delivery home. Looking into my crystal ball, the weather will and should make the big boats have their crews jump off the dock on their arrival and head for the barn. We call that turning and burning, for the smaller boats don’t even think about coming home until early Wednesday morning. So for all you people that have love ones, friends doing the race and the delivery home. I would not be surprised if you get a phone call informing you that they will be a little late coming home.

For use on Horizon the race is looking pretty good that we can three-peat for the overall win but that would be bad luck for me to say. As most of my readers know I am very superstitious and I have found the perfect karma ingredient. On the day of the race I will pick up three pieces of plastic out of the water. That could be anything from a plastic water bottle or a grocery bag while walking down the dock. I even try changing course just a little bit, while racing, to pick up that plastic ballon out of the water. You should try this sometime and see if it as lucky for you as it is for me. I still do not know why the race committee does not give a time allowance to the cruisers, who are allowed to run their engines during the race, for picking up plastic along the race course.

So if you are reading this story on Saturday morning we should have finished the race before 3:00 AM and we are probably checked into our rooms talking about where we messed up our how good of sailors we are. I am sure there will be plenty of conversation on how spectacular it is to sail at night under a full moon and how gnarly that last jibe was in twenty knots of wind was.
As always the competitors need to give a big shout out to the Newport Ocean Sailing Association for all their hard work finding participants, sponsors, cleaning trophies and coming up with new ways for making this race better for everyone. If you are looking for more reading about the race head over to my blog site at I wrote a story for the race program “Reflections on Winning” and I posted what our strategy will be on race day.

As always wish us luck.

Sea ya

Monday, April 18, 2016

How Horizon won the 2015 Ensenada overall.

It always fun to tell your competitors and friends how good a sailor you are and how you won the Ensenada race overall in 2015. So when I was asked to write this story I jumped at it. This had to have been the thirty-second time I have sailed the race and the first time I was aboard the winning boat overall.

So how did I do it? Simple I found someone looking to buy a boat and we went out and bought the best offshore boat and program we could find. Horizon a Santa Cruz 50+, if I am not mistaken, had won PHRF class A in 2013 and overall 2014. The new owner and I just stepped aboard and let the boat and crew show us how it’s done. Next thing I know we are entering All Saints Bay with the sun coming up next to Medicine Man, Pyewacket, Bolt, It’s OK and Bad Pak. These are some of the biggest and best boats in the monohull fleet. I recall they beat us across the finish line by nineteen minutes, that gave us the overall win.

What, you say it is not that easy? Well you are right, the boat and the crew where preparing for the up coming Trans Pac race and we had just completed the Island Race and the Cabo race in the same year finishing 2nd and 3rd in class respectively. It goes without saying that Horizon is one of the best prepared boats in the fleet and we showed up to the starting line ready to race.

The only thing slowing us down last year was the weather and the forecast was dismal at best. By the time dinner was served we were all looking at each other wondering if it was time to pull the plug and head back home. I recall the quote on the boat that late afternoon and early evening was “ Why do we do this to ourselves.” We had been sailing a little above rum line throughout the day and then the breeze filled in from the south-west that allowed to close reach straight at the Coronado Islands. As we got closer to the islands we stayed with our reaching spinnaker up and with one foot on the beach we took the outside track. The breeze picked up a little more and we had our 2A up running straight at our waypoint just outside All Saints Bay.

Nothing sparks the adrenaline button more than noticing that you are around some of the biggest boats in the fleet when the sun is coming up and a crew member, looking through the binoculars, first announces “ Hey, I think that big flat head main and blue hull is Medicine Man” with only about twenty miles to go to the finish line. The whole off watch was on deck to take a look, that gives me an idea. The next time we do a spinnaker change and it’s time to pack the previous spinnaker I am going to say “Hey, I think that is Pyewacket” and see how many off watch crew members will help me pack the chute.

This year Horizon has a new crew and we just won the San Diego to PV race overall. We have added two new sails, a very sexy bottom job and again the boat has never been better prepared for the race. We will be on the starting line ready to race this April 23 and hope to see you on the water.

Sea ya

Len Bose

GM Sailing Team Horizon

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Thunder and lighting on the harbor this weekend.

BY: Len Bose

The mooring balls have been removed from in front of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club and there are a lot of really good sailors in town this week. Must be time for some 25-cent beers and the 2016 Baldwin Cup.

The three-day NHYC Baldwin Cup, which has J.P. Morgan Chase as its presenting sponsor again, sails Friday through Sunday just off the main dock of the yacht club in Harbor 20s.

This year's teams come from as far away as West Itchenor, England. Five of the teams are from the East Coast of the United States, while four teams are from the West Coast. The West Coast teams hail from Seattle, San Diego and Newport Beach.NHYC has two teams entered named Thunder and Lightning. Team Thunder seeks its third straight Baldwin Cup victory.

Justin "Lawman" Law, the Thunder captain, knows what makes the championship team so great.
"Team Thunder is a solid squad made up of Newport Beach locals who get to spend the most time in the boats and know what the Lido Lift is," Law says on the event's website.

Skipper Michael "Big C" Menninger with his father, five-time Harbor 20 champion, Bill "Dollar Bill" Menninger as his crew are on the Thunder roster. Also for the Thunder are: skipper Brian "The Cruise Missile" Bissell sailing with his wife Perry "Peronicus" Bissell; skipper Jon "Ropes" Pinckney sailing with his wife Gale "White Thunder" Pinckney; and Lawman will be sailing with Jeff "Gordo" Gordon.

The regatta is fantastic not just because of the 25-cent beers. For an especially unique perspective you can almost give your favorite team members a high-five as they sail past the dock during the racing.

The real excitement actually comes from the regatta's format of 4-v-4 team racing. It's best described from the Baldwin Cup website: "Team racing, like most traditional team sports, involves strategy, advanced skill, and teamwork. However, unlike other fleet racing, team racing pits a team of four against another team of four boats. This added dimension forces players to have tremendous boat-handling ability and quick reactions.”

The key to watching these races and understanding if your team is winning the race is counting the place of each of your team's boats and if that number is less than 18 your team is winning the race. This is why you will see leading boats turn around and try to slow down the opposing team's boats making an effort to have their teammate pass an opponent.

Another fun aspect of attending this event is just hanging out with your friends and informing the umpires of their bad calls. Yes, team racing has umpires on the water similar to an umpire on the baseball field.
Quite often you will hear from the gallery, "Come on, ump! Make a call!”

The sailors are the players and they also can hear all of your comments from the bleachers.
Now just blend in the cost of beers and you can almost hear Harry Caray singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
Who knows, maybe the Baldwin Cup play-by-play announcers might start playing this tune after the seventh heat each day?

There always needs to be a big shout-out to all the volunteers. This list appears to be over 100 people. From boat owners, race committee, pit crew and housing it takes a whole lot of people to run an event of this caliber.
Make sure you visit for team information and other important features. The short interview with each sailor is a good read. If you want to check the weather conditions, go to the regatta cam link and you will be able to see what's going on at the main dock and across the harbor.

You will be able to find me at the event for some of Saturday and most of Sunday for the final series.

Newport to Ensenada
It's time to wrap up the preparations for this year's Newport-to-Ensenada race. We will be back this year aboard Horizon, and with your luck again we will be trying for a third consecutive overall win.
I will be making my predictions for the class winners in my next column and give you a hint about our strategy.
Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist for the Daily Pilot.