Flags, Maps and Practical Matters
While talking to my sister I was reminded today of a sentiment that I have shared on numerous occasions while reading the blogs of other cruisers. Sometimes when we are exploring and becoming; out of necessity as much as interest, intimately familiar with an area, we forget that people reading will rarely share that level of familiarity with it’s location geographically. For that reason, on this post I have shared some screen shots of Nova Scotia including it’s relative position to our country as well as proximity to past and future destinations.
In the photo I have drawn lines connecting cities that we have previously cruised to/from and the associated milage of those trips. If you are interested in calculating the time enroute, we are cruising at between 7 and 8 knots. All milage is in knots. Yesterday morning at 10:00am we departed Halifax and will continue to the Bras D’or (pronounced bra door) lakes which is to the far East of Nova Scotia. Previously we had planned and hoped to make it to Newfoundland, which is further East still, but while discussing our rough plan and itinerary for the trip back South again, it was clear that any attempts to make it there and also to Prince Edward Island would result in us rushing through as though we were participants in the “Amazing Race” rather than the retired and relaxed pleasure cruisers that we are so we are regrettably postponing that destination until hopefully our trip HOME from Europe in several years from now.
An interesting a fun fact about flags (If you have no interest in flags stop reading:)
Back before the invention of the VHF radio, yachtsmen communicated with the outside world via flags. Every position on a boat has a meaning and nautical flags exist to cover nearly all manner of needs a traveling yacht may require. For example, the D flag means “I am maneuvering with difficulty” and the Q flag means “I am in quarantine arriving from a foreign port”. There are flags to request a pilot boat and to even request ice. While most of this communication has been relegated to the VHF, there is still a great tradition to flags and even today, the Q flag (solid yellow) is used when entering a foreign port and prior to clearing customs. This flag informs everyone on the dock that no persons may board the vessel until it has been cleared by customs and all occupants of the vessel (except 1 Captain if required to meet with authorities) must remain aboard until it has been cleared.
While cruising in the US, we have a private signal, a flag which is our family flag similar to a family crest. Anyone familiar with Alec’s family would immediately recognize it as being a member of this family. On the bow of the yacht there is a place for a club affiliation flag and of course, on the stern the ensign or country flag of the vessel’s documentation would be flown. When entering a foreign country the Q flag is raised and once customs has been cleared, the Q flag is lowered and the country whose waters you will be enjoying will be hoisted as a sign of respect. This is done on the Starboard side at mid-ships and is considered a place of honor on the boat. We are currently flying the Canadian cruising flag as well as the Nova Scotia province flag. At each port in our travels, the US flag has been hoisted out of courtesy for our presence at the dock. Pictured below is the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron where we have been docked for the past several days, and all of the flags of the visiting yachts in residence. I love the tradition of flag etiquette and thought you may be interested too. There is something so special about seeing ones own country flag in a foreign port being flown out of courtesy to a traveling yachtsman.
While cruising offshore for the 3 day passage between Cape Lookout and Onset, MA, we were saddened to see an inordinate number of mylar balloons floating in the water. As Jack’s birthday was rapidly approaching and we would be celebrating in Onset, we had a family meeting and discussed the effect of these balloons on the environment vs. their contribution to the world. It was decided at that meeting that this is something that we could live without and Jack agreed and felt strongly that we should no longer purchase balloons. We had a chance to try this out at Jack’s birthday party and their absence had no effect on our joy or celebration and then again at a carnival type celebration in Halifax there was a clown making balloon animals and Jack said “no thank you.” At the time, Jack had asked me to post this on FaceBook, and Im sorry to admit that I never did. Social media is something that I struggle with. If anyone would like to repost this, that would be perfectly fine with me. Which brings me to an article that I read yesterday in Ocean Navigator magazine. During the Volvo around the world sailing regatta, one of the boats agreed to collect water samples (the approximate circumference of a soda can) and submit them for testing. These samples indicated that in every body of water including Antarctica there are micro plastics (smaller than 5mm). The significance of this can’t be overstated. Of basic importance to all of us, these plastics are being ingested by zooplankton which are in turn being ingested up the food chain and are landing on our plates. These plastics are permeating our oceans and being ingested by mammals and fish alike. The additional plastics entering our world will cause these numbers to more than double. This should shock everyone who is reading this. India is taking the bold move to eliminate single use plastics by 2022. Several years ago when reading a completely unrelated study about the effect of BPA on humans (their origin in plastic), we tried to eliminate plastic from all of our food containers. For years we have stored our food in glass containers, purified our water and stored it is glass bottles in the fridge, etc. But this is not nearly enough. Many of the restaurants in Maine have begun only offering straws to customers who request them. Plastic grocery bags are a huge source of ocean plastics. Water bottles are poisoning our streams and rivers and ending up in the ocean. What can each of us do to minimize what ends up in the ocean? We are going to have another family meeting about this and Ill post what we agree – what can you and your family do?
Thanks for reading.