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The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

Attaching Flags to Flag Halyards

Rob Murray

Beneteau First 435 Sloop
January 7th, 2018

We all want to fly our bits of coloured cloth, proudly announcing where we’re from (national ensign), where we are (courtesy flags), and who we are (club and rally burgees, fishing flags, cocktail hour announcements, etc.).

The trouble is, they can be a pain to raise and adjust, and those little flag clips or halyard clips seem extremely costly ($13USD a pair at West Marine), and fragile.

There is a solution that is sturdy, appropriately marine-ized, and cost effective.

Next time you’re by a chandler or well-stocked fishing equipment store, grab some large-ish swivel/snap combos and a few split rings (actually, grab some extra split rings in various sizes for snap shackle repair down the road; they’re cheap and handy to have on hand).

Assemble the split rings to the swivels so you get a few like this:

To use them, pull the flag halyard through the split ring like this:

And double it back to make a ring knot like this:

Pulled tight on the halyard, it won’t slip, and can be adjusted up and down the halyard to accommodate different numbers of flags or burgees, or different sized ones with ease.

The fishing swivels and clips are an appropriate marine grade to last approximately forever, and the parts to make up a few of these are a fraction of the cost of the purpose-built ‘yachty’ ones you will see in the chandlery.


  1. Katherine Ackerman says:

    Excellent tip, thank you!

  2. Jane Poulston s/v Ta-b says:

    Hi Rob good info. Might be worth letting members know that these flags should only be put on the port flag halyard, unless they are the Q or courtesy flag; which are the “only” ones that should be on the starboard flag halyard.

    1. John says:

      Yes, in some countries the officials get upset if you don’t get it right!

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