CBYCA Yacht Club Traditions and Protocol
Doing things well in a consistent and proper fashion is a way of showing pride in yourself, your club, and your boating hobby as well as showing respect to your fellow yachtsmen around the Chesapeake Bay. Also, traditions and protocols allow us to run events smoothly, effectively mark special occasions, and provide connection back to our founders and forward to the next generation. To this end, the CBYCA collects, monitors, and exchanges information about traditions and protocols of interest to member clubs. Listed below (in no particular order) answers to commonly asked questions and information that we feel you and your yacht club will find useful. Please find your answer below. If you are still in need of help email Captain Protocol
Term for an appointed CBYCA officer, committee, or article concerned with yacht club customs, traditions, practices, and protocols to provide uniformity and socially acceptable standards for operations of Clubs
clubs love tradition and one of the great traditional rules is “right rank”.
Just as you wear the collar pin of the office you hold on the right, so
also belongs the corresponding badge. So,
if you are dressed to represent your office as Secretary of XYZ Yacht Club, then
your XYZ Yacht Club badge is worn on the right, while your CBYCA, Power
Squadron, PRYCA, CCC, DRYL, etc. badges are worn on the left.
How many badges are worn is up to the wearer or the parent organization.
If you wear more than one badge on the right side (maybe because you ran
out of space on your jacket) the badge corresponding to the office you are
representing should be the highest. Badges
should be worn above pockets but devices on the pocket are OK when multiple
devices are worn – the idea is to look balanced.
An often heard problem among yacht club folks is
“my badge sags on my shirt, what can I do?”
The trick the military types typically use is to cut out some stiff
material from something like a gift box, place it behind the shirt material, and
pin the badge through it – takes a bit of practice to get right – don’t
pick a color that shows through the shirt.
worry about where and how flags are flown?
Well, before radio and electric lights, flags were how boats communicated
at a distance and have become the traditional way that boats tell something of
themselves, the owners, and the guests on board.
There are many complications and variations but the main rule to remember
is the “right rank” rule. So what rank is right for your boat? It is the one that corresponds to the “official” burgee
flown at the bow (power only) or masthead (sail or power). Sailboats may also fly the boat’s “official” burgee on
a Starboard hoist. “Official”
in this case means the club or organization that you want your boat to
represent. It is usually your home
yacht club but may be changed for reasons such as cruising with another club to
which you belong.
On a boat the place of Honor for the United States National Ensign is at the aft on a pole angled at about 30 degrees. The display standard at most yacht clubs is a spreading yardarm with gaff. The Ensign is flown from angled gaff with the Club Flag flown on the highest vertical mast. If a yardarm is not available, traditions for display of the United States Ensign is to hoist it on the highest pole of the facility. For more information on mast and flag handling see Flags and Opening Day Presentations.
The flags you fly to Starboard represent the offices of all aboard corresponding to your “official” club burgee or organization flag. Flags flown to Port are, in general, any other burgees or office flags of the owners or guests aboard the boat. Always remember to group the burgees and offices together. For example, you should expect to see the Ventnor YC burgee with a Commodore flag under it followed by the Bristol YC burgee with the CBYCA Delegate flag under it if the Ventnor Commodore and the Bristol Delegate or Alternate were aboard that boat. To put the flags and burgees in the right order, remember “place higher in order of rank” and “higher in order of most to least represented”. For example, club office flags of any rank are flown above the Past Commodore Flag because Past Commodore is a personal flag vs. the many represented by a club office flag. Another example is that DRYL, PRYCA, CCC and CBYCA flags, representing regional organizations, would be flown above club burgees. An NBF flag, representing a national organization, would be flown above CCC and CBYCA flags. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules. Also be aware of additional rules of other organizations such as the U.S. Power Squadrons and Coast Guard Auxiliary. For detailed flag guidance, there are many good references such as CHAPMANS and the U.S. Power Squadrons guide.
etiquette for men or women permits salutes only in uniform and only when covered
(i.e. when a hat is worn). When
uncovered in uniform or in civilian attire, proper naval etiquette requires
coming to attention but no salute. When
uncovered in uniform or when in civilian attire, salute the U.S. Flag with hand
There is a strong desire by many to salute the Bridge (or Quarterdeck) Officer during a yacht club ceremony, hat or no hat. Among many Chesapeake Bay area clubs, it has become acceptable, when in uniform, to salute the Bridge Officer when “Coming Aboard” during indoor ceremonies where hats are not worn. Host clubs desiring greater formality with strict adherence to naval etiquette should remind their guests in invitations and flyers that representing officials in uniform are requested to wear hats during introductions. On such occasions, host club officer(s) manning the Bridge also should be wearing hats to properly receive the salutes. Those who are not comfortable with salutes can show respect to the host club by pausing at attention for a moment at the appropriate spot. Never respond with a salute unless one is given to you.
attending or participating in any club event, the chief thing to keep in mind
either as a visitor or club member is to act with courtesy and respect to
others. There are times when
we wish to mark a special occasion though certain customs, traditions, and
protocols. Even if some of
these things may be “old hat” to you personally, keep in mind that each
ceremony we attend is special and unique to the host club, its organizers, and
honored guests and that we should always work together to ensure the occasion is
the best it can be for everyone involved.
Please consider the following points next time you attend a function:
addition to guidance found the CBYCA yearbook and other sources, keep the
following pointers in mind:
the senior person in the group returns the honor guard salute.
The reasons for the senior person only salute to an honor guard are: 1) Salutes, as a matter of courtesy, are always returned,
2) As each yacht club group
passes through, the honor guard is rendering honor to the organization, not the
individuals passing through, 3)
The senior person acts on behalf of the organization, and
4) The individuals passing
through form a unit representing their organization – the senior person acts
on behalf of the unit (e.g. like an army platoon leader saluting on behalf of
his platoon). This interpretation is also consistent with the commonly
practiced yacht club custom that only the senior officer salutes the bridge
while the rest of the group lines up, followed by a step forward out of
formation where each individual salutes when introduced and recognized.
note that the senior person holds the salute until exiting the Honor Guard
formation. The Honor Guard holds the salute until the last person in the
organization has exited the Honor Guard formation. Under no circumstances should the Honor Guard drop their
salute before the senior person has dropped their salute.
yacht club custom (often used for Opening Day/Flag Raising), which reflects
nautical and naval traditions, is the approach to the Bridge to render honors.
The speakers stand, usually near the yardarm when outdoors, represents
the Bridge (or Quarterdeck) of the host club where the Officer of the Deck (OOD)
is standing watch. In yacht club
ceremonies, the OOD is the officer who accepts and returns salutes and other
courtesies as well as granting the visitors the traditional permission to come
aboard. The OOD is usually
not the Master of Ceremonies because it is awkward to run the show and also be
in it. At opening ceremonies, the
OOD is usually the Commodore.
The typical yacht club ceremony follows the naval tradition of coming aboard ship where the ensign (U.S. Flag) is saluted at the top of the gangway, and then the OOD is saluted with a request for permission to come aboard. Unlike when passing as a group through the honor guard, all salute (if covered and in uniform) the ensign because ranks are temporarily broken to “cross the gangway”. The unit reforms on the Bridge (or Quarterdeck) to be introduced by the senior officer. The individual does not salute until they called from ranks to be recognized. If not in uniform, a person may salute the ensign with hand over heart or by pausing, facing the ensign, and coming to attention. The group salute often seen at the end of a visiting club introduction and remarks is a formal rendering of honors from a group in formation and provides for a graceful (hopefully) and ceremonious exit. The group salute is reminiscent of the naval tradition of “manning the rails” where passing ships exchange group salutes of crewmembers assembled at attention on the side facing a passing ship or place of honor. The senior officer of the group leads the salute with the words “XYZ Yacht Club, Hand Salute”. The group salutes in unison on the word “salute”. The senior officer then says “Ready, two” On the word “two” the group drops salute, turns and heads toward the beverage cooler.
The line up of officers is as follows:
Senior Board Member
Junior Board Member
Immediate Past Commodore
Most Senior Past Commodore
Most Junior Past Commodore
Past Commodores should line up and be introduced oldest to newest. The Immediate Past Commodore (IP/C) should be last. However, many clubs introduce the IP/C after current officers because the IP/C is a current Board Member.
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