The Official Magazine of the Bluewater Cruising Association

With Flying Colours

Stefanie Schulz

Fortitude X
Beneteau 42
September 28th, 2022

In times when certain politicians use over the top patriotic slogans for their own obscene reasons of power, it feels almost indecent to talk about national pride. German by birth and new Canadian by choice, I feel fortunate to embrace values important to both countries. Germany’s recent history didn’t really teach us to be proud to be German; developing some kind of loyalty and gratitude for my country truly started after moving to Canada. I instantly felt in love with the beauty of the Great White North and its people. And while I am not your typical “play by the rule” individual, I respect traditions and customs of the country I call home – and those of countries I visit.

We recently spent a few days at Causeway Marina in Victoria, saying our farewells to Canada before starting our journey south, en route to Mexico. We were one of just a few Canadian-flagged boats at the marina, where we were joined by mostly American vessels, a majority of them belonging to a yacht club from Washington. I know it shouldn’t have bothered me, although it obviously did (or I wouldn’t have drafted this article), but not even a handful of boat owners, out of more than two dozens skippers, had the good manners to fly the Canadian courtesy flag. On the contrary, some boats showcased different sizes of “The Stars and Stripes” in various locations on the bow, stern, and stacked on top of each other at the outboard signal halyard of the main starboard spreader.

It’s international etiquette to display a courtesy flag when visiting foreign waters and I wish our own Canadian politeness would not have prevented us from educating these visiting cruisers right on the spot. In retrospect, I should have been more German.

We left for Port Angeles two days later, flying the Q flag in international waters before Customs cleared us for entry. After clearing, we replaced the Q flag with the correctly-sized American flag to show our respect. That’s how we do it when we are from Canada, eh!


  1. Nancy Carlman says:

    Thank you, Stefanie. If you know the name of the Washington State yacht club whose members were at the Causeway Marina in Victoria, I’d be happy to write to the yacht club, on behalf of BCA, to suggest that members live up to international customs, in fact laws, I think, about displaying courtesy flags.
    Bon Voyage, Gute Reise to you and Torsten.
    Nancy Carlman

  2. Chris Kasper says:

    ABSOLUTELY!!!! You are so right….and Canada is proud and happy to have new citizens like you join us. Thank you for the article.

  3. Wayne says:

    Wait till you get to Mexico, very few American flags flown.

  4. Murray Catton says:

    Good for you Stefanie. Let some off your GOOD German background be known. Flag etiquette is generally terrible and needs to be emphasized more in our cruising environment.

  5. Anonymous says:

    ABSOLUTELY!!! There are rules for everyone, including American citizens in northern waters. Canada should be proud and happy to have a few more people who stand up to louts from locales south of us. Next time Stefanie, you go full Canadian with a snarky comment delivered in the politest of Candian tones! Then pour their bourbon into the diesel engine…it’s lousy whisky in any case.

  6. Chris Stask says:

    I have dual citizenship and have voiced my opinion on flag etiquette to many a vessel over the years in both countries. Thanks for the article.

  7. Billy Norrie says:

    Thank you Stefanie. Excellent article and G O Y ! I also feel flag edict should be respected and shame on our southern neighbours that behave as you witnessed \.These boat owners do all boat owners and international sailors a disservice with such ignorant or willful tribal behaviour. I believe it is in all our interests to advise such “rule breakers” of their error or we condone it in our silence . Let us all work towards world peace and respect actively and modestly aye !

  8. Doug Abbott says:

    Hi Stefanie. I’m frankly surprised, as in our experience American boaters visiting Canada are very diligent flying courtesy flags. As a Canadian, I’ve more often been embarrassed to see fellow Canadians not reciprocating and flying U.S. courtesy flags.

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