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!