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Look out for your national flag on our flagpole

You can’t miss the flagpole at our new wharf in Llangattock. When designing the site we decided to position the flagpole close to the water’s edge, alongside our patio where visitors enjoy a coffee and cake before embarking on their holiday.

Glance at the flags flying from it and you’ll get a summary of the nationalities of the visitors that are holidaying on our narrowboats that week. It’s one way in which we welcome our guests.

We feel privileged that so many of our visitors travel long distances to holiday on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal. It’s always pleasing to see their faces light up when they notice their national flag on our flagpole.

As seasoned sailors we have a reasonable knowledge of the complex subject of flag etiquette. It’s a combination of law and maritime tradition. Knowing which flag to fly and where to position it on a boat is crucial if we’re not to cause insult or break the law when we’re sailing. When crossing into waters owned by another country we always fly that country’s flag as a courtesy flag. While there is no legal requirement to fly a courtesy flag, doing so acknowledges that the vessel will respect the laws and sovereignty of that country.

On our flagpole at the wharf, we fly the flag of Wales (Y Ddraig Goch – The Red Dragon) from the masthead – the highest point of the flagpole. From the gaff (a short pole attached to the flagpole at an angle) we fly our Beacon Park Boats flag. The horizontal pole is called the yardarm or crosstrees, and we fly courtesy flags attached to the halyards that run from the ends of the crosstrees.

So far we’ve purchased the national flags of over fifteen countries to make sure we’re ready to welcome our visitors. But at some point, no doubt, we’ll need to buy more flags, as we get enquiries from nationalities that have never visited us before. In the recent photograph, above, you’ll see that we had a very busy week with overseas visitors. On the right hand side are the flags of Canada, Australia, USA, Holland and Finland, and on the left hand side the flag of England and two flags from Lapland - first the national flag of Lapland followed by the flag of the Sámi people, the indigenous nation of the Nordic countries and the Kola Peninsula of the Russian Federation.

Many of our international visitors spend time on our narrowboats as part of a much longer holiday exploring the UK and Europe. To help them plan their holiday we’ve put together some useful information, which has generated positive feedback from visitors from across the globe. We wonder which country's flag we'll need to purchase next?