October 27, 2017

Friday Funny 10/27 (Alaska's Flag)

Big Bang Theory - "Fun With Flags", I think this show is very funny.

We once had a guest onboard Denali Rose who asked the question: "What's with all of the Alaska flags everywhere? I don't even know what my state flag looks like."

Alaska's Flag

That's an easy answer, we have a thing about our flag. We love it.

All Alaskan schoolchildren learn about how we got our flag, and they also learn the "Alaska Flag" song. Even now I could sing it all the way through if you asked, but it would be better if you didn't. I don't sing very well, and it has some very high notes in it. Me singing high notes, or yowling cat, you choose, personally I would choose the yowling cat.

Gus yowling

Eight stars of gold on a field of blue

Geez, I get tears in my eyes just listening to it being sung.

Okay, back to the flag. In 1927, when Alaska was still a territory of the United States, the Territorial Governor asked the Alaska American Legion to host a contest for children in grades 7 thru 12, to create a design for the flag. He wanted to push statehood along, and figured this was a good way to do it. (Note, we didn't actually gain statehood until 1959.)

Benny Benson, a 13 year old boy who lived in a group mission home in Seward was the winner.

Benny explained his design: “The blue field is for the Alaska sky and the forget-me-not, an Alaska flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly in the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear – symbolizing strength.”

You'll find Alaska's flag on houses, boats, both commercial, and private, cars, poles, clothing, artwork, jewelry, and many more places.

Once the previous owners of Denali Rose, were transiting to a foreign country, and they only had the Alaska flag flying, not the US flag. Flag protocol says that you fly your country flag on your stern, and a courtesy flag of the country you are in on your outboard signal halyard of the main starboard spreader, after you check in with customs. (Translation for lubbers, farthest to the right on the main mast - tall thingy holding up main sail, spreader - the horizontal pieces that help support the mast,  signal halyard - flag rope.)  The customs officer inquired about the flag that was flying on the back of their boat, which country was the flag from? Jack replied that it belonged to Alaska, the officer nodded, and they got their stamp of approval. (Whew, crisis averted.)

Of course, the country of Alaska, you've heard of it, haven't you? We have our own currency too!

My Facebook feed.

We don't always put up our flags, but when we do, I always put up my Alaska flag right underneath the US flag. It's important to me.

Proper order with the US flag flying higher than the Alaska flag.

And sometimes I get my Women Who Sail burgee up also. (burgee is a distinguishing flag, regardless of its shape, of a recreational boating organization. In most cases, they have the shape of a pennant. Wikipedia)

If you are a women who sails, you can get yours at Mantus Marine. Don't forget to join the Facebook group.

We have gotten a bit lazy this fall trip, and we haven't put up the flags at all. Proper US flag etiquette says that the US flag should be taken down at sunset, unless you illuminate it all night. Our hoisting halyard is not the easiest for me to manage, so laziness wins out, (unfortunately). We do our best to honor the flag for various reasons, that I won't go into here. Don't argue with us, it's our blog, and not your political forum.

This is my interim compromise, inside the pilothouse.

Getting the flags up somewhere onboard.

It's easy, it's fast, and it (mostly), satisfies my need to have flags up.

Do you have flags up on your boat, house, car? What kind do you like? Do you like Sheldon on "Fun With Flags"? Should I get holiday flags, after all, wouldn't they be great decor that don't take up much storage space? 

As always, we enjoy hearing from you, either here in comments or on our Facebook Denali Rose Sailboat page.


  1. So interesting to learn what the Alaskan flag looks like and what it symbolizes. Love the fact that it was a child who designed it. That FB exchange on Alaskan currency is funny. I guess some people aren't all that great at geography :-)

    1. The reply when we order stuff over the phone, and give our address, saying AK, is often, "oh, okay, that item will be shipped to Arkansas." Uh.. no...

      What country flag is on the transom of your boat?

  2. I too love a flag flying on a boat. It is always exciting to run the Canadian flag up the starboard spreader halyard when we enter that country. And soon we will be raising our Mexican courtesy flag when we cross the border into Mexico.

    One irritation with our U.S. flag, flying from the mizzen topping lift is that they get beat up fairly quickly and then look downright unpatriotic. After reading your post, I will take the current flag down and see if I can find a more durable design. Flying from the topping lift looks great when the flag is new but it is a pain to take down (think dropping the mizzen boom)

    1. Hi Mike, Regarding flag wear, we have found these to be the longest lasting and best value so far: http://amzn.to/2zjnH0s

      Regarding flying from the mizzen mast- we have a small mizzen masthead crane extending maybe 12" aft, from which a small block hangs. A flag halyard runs throught hat sheave and back to the stern rail clear of the mizzen boom, etc. We run the 3' x'5' US flag about 2/3rds of the way up the mizzen mast [per protocol] and from there it, and the same sized Alaska flag below it clear most obsticles...

      An alternative [also within protocol] is to fly the colors from a staff on your stern rail...

      We have enjoyed following you guys as you traverse S along the Pac coast. I haven't made that treck in 20+ years; thanks for envoking the memories, and safe travels...

      Cheers! Bill

    2. When we got new running rigging in Anacortes, the guys made us dedicated flag halyards with integrated clips. They work fairly well, but sometimes catch on other things, and are hard to run up, and down. (Like the one mizzen mast step that somehow got unfolded, and sticks out. It's main mission is to catch the flag, and hold it until the flag rips. Not cool!) Good luck with your flag, I look forward to seeing your Mexican courtesy flag flying!


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