Vaughan Marsh, Chief Instructor of the RYA Sail Cruising training scheme shares some tips for reefing downwind and reefing downwind, with and without a topping lift…

Reefing downwind

Yacht with reefed sail and yacht with reefed sail with topping lift

Sometimes when sailing downwind with a poled-out headsail, or even under spinnaker, you may wish to put in a reef whilst continuing in the direction of your destination.

As well as keeping you heading in the right direction this also reduces the apparent wind strength and therefore tends to be more comfortable.

This technique will allow you to take in a reef without the need to de-rig your pole and come up to windward in light to moderate winds.

Place the boat on a stable downwind heading typically with the wind fine on the windward quarter

  1. Release the boom vang
  2. Tension the topping lift, ensuring the boom is elevated a little at the outboard end
  3. Ease the preventor whilst tensioning the mainsheet, or if no preventor is fitted simply tension the mainsheet which will centre or blade the mainsail. This will have the effect of scandalising and depowering the mainsail
  4. Lower the main halyard until the reefing cringle is level with the ram’s horn – at the same time bring in the reefing line so that both the luff and leach are reduced in unison
  5. Attach the reefing cringle to the ram’s horn and re-tension the main halyard
  6. Continue to tension the reefing line until the sail is tightly bound to the boom – be aware there may be a need to ease the mainsheet a fraction to allow the sail to be reefed tight to the boom
  7. Ease the mainsheet to allow the mainsail to fall out to leeward
  8. Ease the topping lift
  9. Re-tension the boom vang as necessary
  10. Tidy up the lines
  11. If appropriate re-rig a preventer

Reefing with a topping lift

Yacht with reefed sail and yacht with reefed sail with topping lift

For your average cruising sailor this is a simple, safe and low stress method.

  1. Place the boat on a close reach with the headsail trimmed efficiently
  2. Ease the boom vang (kicking strap)
  3. Ease the mainsheet to depower the main
  4. Tension the topping lift, ensuring the boom is raised by an exaggerated amount above the horizontal (this is known as scandalising)
  5. Lower the main halyard until your reefing cringle is level with the boom gooseneck
  6. Attach the reefing cringle to the ram’s horn or reefing point at the gooseneck
  7. Re-tension the main halyard
  8. Tension the reefing line ensuring the sail is bound tightly to the boom – check to ensure the sail is not ‘pinched’ to the boom
  9. Ease the topping life then sheet in the main
  10. Re-tension the boom vang and tidy up tails of all the lines

Reefing without a topping lift

Where you are sailing on a boat without a topping lift or when your topping lift has been disconnected for some reason, this method will allow you to put in a reef safely.

  1. Place the boat on a close reach and trim your headsail efficiently
  2. Release the boom vang
  3. Ease the mainsheet right out so that the mainsail ‘floats’
  4. Lower the halyard until the appropriate reefing cringle is level with the ram’s horn at the gooseneck of the boom
  5. Attach the reefing cringle to the ram’s horn
  6. Re-tension the main halyard
  7. Tension the reefing line to the point where the sail is tightly bound against the boom, checking to make sure the sail is not ‘pinched’ between the reefing line and the boom
  8. Trim on with the mainsheet
  9. Re-tension the boom vang
  10. Tidy up lines and if necessary, tie up the ‘bunt of the sail’ with sail ties through the reefing cringles and around the foot of the sail

Neil Cunningham, the club’s mooring contractor has been servicing the club’s and members moorings this week in Carrick Castle and will continue next week.

 

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LOCH LONG – SEABED SAMPLING
LNTM No 13/21
British Admiralty Charts 3746

1. Mariners are advised that the GSS vessel Mary M will be conducting seabed sampling work in the area of upper Loch Long on or around Tuesday 15th June 2021.

2. Please see below chart and table showing the sample area and positions:-

 

Table 1 Details the proposed benthic survey sample positions (WGS84)

 

Station Number Latitude Longitude Lat D m.mmm Lon D m.mmm
1 56.15594 -4.807 56 9.356 N 4 48.420 W
2 56.15602 -4.81112 56 9.361 N 4 48.667 W
3 56.15494 -4.8088 56 9.296 N 4 48.828 W
4 56.15388 -4.81097 56 9.233 N 4 48.658 W
5 56.15364 -4.81248 56 9.218 N 4 48.749 W
6 56.15327 -4.81525 56 9.196 N 4 48.915 W
7 56.15031 -4.81135 56 9.019 N 4 483681 W
8 56.14995 -4.81568 56 8.997 N 4 48.941 W
9 56.14895 -4.81628 56 8.937 N 4 48.977 W
10 56.14816 -4.81203 56 8.890 N 4 48.722 W

 

 

3. Please see below Image of GSS Vessel Mary M:

4. Mariners are to navigate with caution when transiting in this area and reduce speed adjacent to the works area.

5. Further Information can be obtained from QHM Harbour Control on VHF CH73 or 01436 674321 Ext 3555/4005.

6. Next CWM 14/21

 

View notice online

The club is looking to set up an RYA Power Boat Handling Level 2 Course through Scouts Adventure Scotland (Lochgoilhead).

Date TBA but not too far in the future. Discounted cost to members £225.00 (non-members £250.00).

Powerboat Handling Level 2 | Powerboat | Courses | RYA

https://www.rya.org.uk › courses › powerboat

This two-day entry level course provides the skills and background knowledge needed to drive a powerboat and is the basis of the International Certificate of Competence (ICC).
It focuses on low speed close quarters handling, man overboard recovery, an introduction to driving at plaining speed and collision regulations.

Ability after the course: Self-sufficient powerboat handling..

Minimum age: 12

Course content: Launching and recovery, boat …

Minimum duration: 2 days

If you are interested in taking this course please contact our committee member, Vonna Cowper-Smith at Vonna@btinternet.com as soon as possible please. The course can run with a minimum of three persons.

Carrick Castle Boat Club

RYA Scotland Guidance Update

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Friends,

 

I am sure you will be well aware from the news that much of Scotland is now in Level 2 with the islands now down to Level 1.

 

Some localities are unfortunately remaining at Level 3 which is a timely reminder that we do need to remain vigilant as we return to our boating activities.

 

Our revised guidance will hopefully help with understanding what the recent changes mean for recreational boating in Scotland and is available on our website now.

 

RYA and RYA Scotland are in the process of moving to a new digital platform and there may be the odd glitch as the new website goes live.  Please bear with us as we get the wrinkles ironed out.

 

For all those back afloat and soon to be back afloat, I sincerely hope you enjoy a spectacular season on the water.

 

James Allan

Chief Executive Officer

Royal Yachting Association Scotland

The Carrick Castle Boat Club’s AGM will be held on Monday 14th June 2021 at 6.30 pm by Zoom.

There will be a talk by John Kent, Community Marine Officer, Clyde & South West Scotland on Crown Estate Scotland and an update on moorings activities on the Clyde post Covid-19.

Members will be advised in advance of the Zoom access by e-mail.

Invasive plants and animals to look out for

The spread of non-native invasive species is becoming a major issue in both the marine and inland waters around the UK. This is because the invasive species compete with our native plants and wildlife, introduce diseases and cause major changes to entire ecosystems.

They can also disrupt boating by restricting navigation, blocking inlets and outlets and increasing the bio-fouling of boats and marine structures.

Invasive species can unintentionally become transported to a new habitat by becoming attached to boats, caught in water sport’s equipment or even by latching onto our clothes. The best way to protect your local area of water is to follow the ‘Check, Clean, Dry’ approach to removing invasive species.

Check for any plant or animal material on your boat, equipment and clothing.

Clean your boat, equipment and clothing that has come into contact with the water thoroughly with tap water. Paying particular attention to crevices where species can be hidden.

Dry your craft and any piece of equipment or clothing thoroughly. Many species can survive in damp conditions for many weeks.

Below you will find information about some of the prolific aquatic invasive plants and animals to lookout for when spending time by the coast.

COASTAL

Wire Weed – Originally from Japan, it grows on hard substrata in shallow waters and can also live in estuarine conditions. Wire weed has a rapid growth rate and easily out competes the native seaweed species. Its dense stature means that it blocks out light and oxygen to native species in the water. In the spring months the Weed can grow up to 10 cm a day.

Credit: Non-Native Species Secretariat

Wakame Seaweed – It can be identified by its green-brown leaves and its frilly base. The Seaweed is a prolific grower and excludes native algal species and alters the local food chain. It can grow up to nine feet and can create a thick canopy.

Credit: Non-Native Species Secretariat

Carpet Sea Squirt – The Carpet Sea Squirt is a marine filter feeder and smothers local marine life. As an individual, it is incredibly small, however individuals live in large colonies creating the appearance of one large structure, once established they can spread fast on the seabed. The Squirt is brownish in colour and can become a serious threat to biodiversity.

Pacific Oyster – They are more irregularly shaped than the flat native oysters, and the edges of the shell have wavy, large frills. The inside of the shell is white to off/white with purple streaks. Establishment of Pacific Oysters can significantly alter diversity, community structure and ecosystems.

Chinese Mitten Crab – These crabs often begin life in lower estuaries and marine habitats and then move upstream to riverbanks and streams. They can range from green, brown to grey in colour and their front white tipped pincers are covered in dense fine white hairs. Due to their burrowing activity in riverbanks, they can cause heavy bank erosion and flooding.

The Green Blue is dedicating the 24 – 30 May to ‘Invasive Species Week.’ The week’s aim is to raise awareness of non-native invasive species, to help water users feel confident in identifying any invasive species that they encounter and to share preventative measures and tips.

Can’t wait ‘til then? Check out The Green Blue website: www.thegreenblue.org.uk where you will find a range of information on how you can improve the biosecurity of your sailing club or centre as well as guidance and advice for how all recreational boaters can do our bit to prevent the spread of invasive species.

If your boat is less than 13.7 metres (45ft.) in length, there are no statutory requirements in the UK for safety equipment other than a radar reflector if it is possible to fit one. However, you would be mistaken to presume that because something isn’t legally required, you don’t need it but it is essential that you properly equip your boat prior to heading out onto the water.

Similarly, servicing of equipment for privately owned boats is not required by law, but you still need to check it regularly for wear and tear or damage and where applicable service it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wear your kill cord

Always, always, always use a kill cord when the engine is running. If your boat is not fitted with one, then get one fitted. If the driver becomes dislodged from the helm position then the engine will automatically stop. The kill cord is a red lanyard which has a quick-release fitting at one end which is attached to the engine or console and a clip at the other end attached to the driver preferably around the leg.

Always check that your kill cord works at the start of each day or session by starting the engine and pulling the kill cord to make sure it stops the engine. Displaying a kill cord sticker on your boat can serve as a great reminder to attach the cord each time you go afloat, these are available for free from the RYA.

Over time weathering and UV light will degrade the kill cord and it may become stretched or brittle. Monitor the kill cord for signs of wear, rust and reduced elasticity (the kill cord should not droop excessively) and replace it in good time. When replacing a kill cord, purchase a genuine replacement, cheap imitations have been known to jam or snap. A second kill cord should be kept on board to allow boat to be re-started if the driver and kill cord have gone overboard.

Lifejackets

You should make sure you and your crew have the right personal safety equipment that it is well maintained and fitted correctly. Worn correctly a lifejacket could save your life.

A lifejacket is more suitable than a buoyancy aid when on an open boat such as a powerboat or RIB and generally where you do not expect to enter the water. They offer a higher standard of performance and are intended to provide face up in water support regardless of physical conditions.

Ideally you should buy a lifejacket that is fitted with crotch straps; these will stop the lifejacket riding up over your head. You should also consider a lifejacket that has a place to fit a personal locator beacon to aid location. Where possible test your lifejacket in a controlled environment to check that it will work for you.

Fighting fire

If a fire occurs on-board your boat it is imperative that you have sufficient firefighting equipment to hand and that you know how to use it if the fire is to be extinguished quickly and effectively.

Where firefighting equipment is not mandatory it does not mean it is not required. Any vessel that is constructed of, or carries any, flammable materials should carry appropriate equipment for extinguishing fires and it is up to the owner to decide what fire extinguishers are needed and where to locate them.

On an open boat with outboard an engine(s) one or two 5A/34B rated extinguishers may be enough. These should be protected from salt water e.g. sealed in a clear plastic bag (heat sealable bags are ideal for this and can be easily torn open if needed) or carried in a dry bag with your basic safety equipment. Remember to store the extinguisher away from the engine and fuel tank. Inboard engines should be protected either by a portable extinguisher through a fire port or by a fixed system.

All fire extinguishers should be serviced, as recommended by the manufacturer or replaced when time expired.

Be seen and be heard

VHF DSC RADIO

Although a maritime radio isn’t mandatory for pleasure vessels up to 13.7m in length, it is recommended, and a significant majority of powerboat and RIB skippers will hold a Marine Radio Short Range Certificate (SRC) to be able to legally operate VHF and VHF DSC radio equipment.

A VHF DSC radio provides line of sight two-way communications capability, automated distress alerting to everyone within range and an indication of your position if connected to a GPS receiver without the need to transmit a Mayday voice message.

EPIRB AND PLB

EPIRB and PLB provide the position of the emergency and vessel identity if registered, but don’t facilitate two-way communication. An EPIRB/PLB does not rely on someone within VHF range to hear your Mayday call, nor does it rely on somebody spotting your flares and taking appropriate action; it simply relies on the beacon being activated and functioning correctly. Once activated an EPIRB will transmit for about 48hours, indicating that you need help and telling the Search and Rescue authorities where you are.

DISTRESS FLARES

Traditional pyrotechnic distress flares are listed in Annex IV of COLREG as an internationally recognised signal which can be used to indicate that you are in distress and need assistance. Annex IV of COLREG lists a rocket parachute flare, a hand flare showing a red light and a smoke signal giving off orange-coloured smoke as possible distress signals. In practice, a vessel in distress may use distress flares, both to indicate that they are in difficulty and to pinpoint their location to those rendering assistance.

Pyrotechnic flares are ultimately explosives. If flares are carried on-board anyone who might have cause to use them should be familiar with how to use them safely. The time to learn this is not during an emergency, it is important to be prepared.

Calling for help

The RYA SafeTrx app provides all recreational boat users with an easily accessible and simple to use means that can inform HM Coastguard of their voyage plans and location in the event of distress. It is free to download for anyone who wants to be safer afloat and there are no charges to use it. The explorer function in the app provides weather information, port and marina contact details and VHF details based on your location when on the water.

Don’t forget…

Other things you should check before going afloat – alternative means of propulsion, anchor, chain and warp, First Aid kit, sharp knife, emergency engine spares, fuel including reserve tank, bucket, bailer or bilge pump, compass, electronic aids and charts.

To find out more about how to keep yourself and everyone on-board safe whilst on the water, visit the Safe Boating hub on the RYA website: www.rya.org.uk 

Top tips to help you tow safely, securely and confidently

When you buy a sportsboat or a RIB, your main concern is likely to be whether you can actually drive the thing without crashing into pontoons and other boats; navigate without getting lost, and deal with any mechanical issues that arise.

What many of us overlook is that, unless you are fortunate enough to own a waterside property, or pay for a regular mooring, you’re probably going to have to know a bit about towing too.

Not only do you have to tow your boat safely to a destination, but you also then have to back it down a slipway, generally with an audience eagerly awaiting catastrophe. But fear not, the RYA has a few handy pointers to help you tow safely, securely and confidently.

Legalities

Before you do anything, you’ll need to know whether you are legally allowed to tow. Requirements differ depending on when you passed your driving test. If you passed prior to 01 January 1997 you’ll be entitled to drive any vehicle/trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes.

After 1997 you can tow a trailer up to 750kg on a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes. In addition to this, you can tow a trailer over 750Kg provided the weight of the trailer and load does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.

Whenever you passed your test, you’re going to need at least third-party insurance cover for your trailer while towing.

Size matters

If you’re towing an oversize or overweight trailer, you’re breaking the law. A trailer drawn by an ordinary car must not exceed 7m in length excluding the hitching device. The combined length of vehicle and tow must not exceed 18 metres on vehicles built before 01 June 1998 and 18.75m on vehicles built after that date. In addition to this, a trailer must not exceed 2.3m in width. In terms of the boat itself, you will need to fit special markers if it projects more than 305mm from one or both sides of the towing vehicle.

There are also restrictions on weight: If you tow a small trailer without brakes, the weight of the trailer is limited to 50% of the kerb weight of the car or 750kg, whichever is less. When towing larger trailers that have brakes fitted, the weight of the trailer should not exceed 85% of the kerb weight of the towing vehicle as a rule of thumb.

Before leaving

Bear in mind that trailers often sit idle for ages and are then immersed in salt water before sitting idle again. It’s a recipe for rust and wheel bearings are always vulnerable.

Keep track of when the trailer was last serviced and leave nothing to chance. Check the ball hitch mechanism is working correctly and once you’ve hooked up the light board, make sure that it’s working correctly. Remember to attach the safety lanyard and also raise the jockey wheel.

Make sure everything is lashed down safely and, if there is an outboard on the back, make sure you have tilted it up and the propeller is covered. Once on the road, remember that the speed limit is 60mph if you’re towing.

Preparing to launch

You’ve managed to get your boat to the water, now you’ve got to get it in and out.

Much like towing, it’s fair to say, that launching can also be pretty stressful if you don’t know what you’re doing. Many of us will have witnessed some fairly unorthodox methods – the classic being unhitching the boat from car followed by the boat rolling uncontrollably down slipway.

This kind of thing really should be avoided at all costs so here are a few useful tips to ensure that launch and recovery are hitch free.

Planning

Careful preparation is the key in this situation; if you’re not confident with reversing a trailer, then perhaps consider practicing in your driveway or somewhere secluded before heading to the slipway. Ensure your tow vehicle will cope.

Check the local tide tables in advance to ensure you have enough water for launching and recovery, also look at the conditions on the water, will they make launching more difficult?

Preparation

On arrival check out the slipway to ensure that your car will be able to handle the slope. Bear in mind that rear wheel drive cars can struggle on slippery ramps, while front wheel drives suffer from wheel spin if the weight of the trailer is excessive.

If you’ve been on a long trip, it’s worth bearing in mind that immersing hot wheel bearings may create a vacuum as the bearings rapidly cool, this draws in water and washes out the grease from the bearings. If this is the case, allow time for them to cool.

Before you launch the boat, ensure that you have removed the light board, loaded your boat up with the relevant supplies and, most importantly, inserted the bungs, you’d be amazed how often people forget! At this point, you’re ready to go.

5,4,3,2,1… Launch

The rear of the boat needs to float so that it can be reversed or pushed off the trailer. Car wheels are best kept well away from seawater.

Reverse down the slipway then push the boat off the trailer or hop into the boat and reverse it away.

If the gradient of the slipway is shallow which prevents you launching with the trailer attached to the car, use a rope or metal extension bar to enable the trailer to be reversed further into the water. This can be achieved by the following method:

  • At the top of the slipway, lower the jockey wheel and put the handbrake on
  • Chock the trailer wheels
  • Connect a long line between the trailer and the tow hook using bowlines
  • Disconnect the trailer
  • Drive the car forwards to take up the slack in the line. Remove the handbrake and the chocks and slowly reverse down the slipway while an assistant keeps the trailer in line
  • To avoid the boat sliding off the trailer when backing down the slipway; ensure the winch strap remains attached to the boat along with an additional safety chain or line between the boat and trailer

Recovery

There are a number of different options here, but it always helps to have two people. In some cases, it may be best to stop the boat at the slip, and back the trailer into the water and manoeuvre it on by hand. Otherwise you may have to drive the boat on to the trailer. This is particularly useful when you are dealing with a steep slipway.

Driving onto a trailer

This calls for a bit of finesse and precision. You’ll need to ensure that the trailer is submerged so that there is enough depth to get your boat on to it and then trim your engine up to the point where the prop will not ground.

Drive on to the trailer ensuring you have just enough speed for steerage. When the boat is on the trailer, either attach the winch strap to the forward D-ring or lash a line from the boat to the trailer.

From here you can generally get it properly lined up on the trailer with a bit of fiddling about and usually you can use the trailer winch to get the boat fully pulled up and you’re on your way.

So there you have it; stress free towing, launch and recovery. With a little care and thought, you can ensure that the main excitement when you go boating is out on the water!

Want to know more?

The two-day RYA Powerboat Level 2 course is a perfect introduction to the skills and background knowledge needed to drive a powerboat safely and with confidence, including launching and recovery. For more information about the course and to find an RYA recognised training centre near you, visit www.rya.org.uk/training.

For more boating advice, visit the RYA website www.rya.org.uk

Flag etiquette is a combination of law (what you must do) and maritime tradition (expectations of behaviour within the sea faring community).

Being ill-informed of your obligations could lead you to cause insult at home or abroad by giving a signal you do not intend to give, or could lead you to a fine for breaking the law.

For many who go to sea, flag etiquette and flag rules are an essential part of the overall sailing process. Only with the right flag, correctly positioned, can you to be sure that you are giving the correct message and that any signal you are giving is clear.

RYA Members

The RYA flag etiquette book C1/04 has been re-written and is published online for the benefit of RYA Members.

For all other website users

A brief overview designed to demystify the basics of flag etiquette follows:

What to put where

The most senior position for a flag on a vessel is reserved for the Ensign – this is as close to the stern of the vessel as possible.  The Ensign shows the country of registry of the vessel and indicates its nationality. A UK flagged vessel must wear her ensign as required by the Merchant Shipping Act, which includes when entering or leaving a foreign port and on demand. It is recommended that the ensign is worn at all times in daylight, especially when near to or in sight of land or another vessel.  A UK registered vessel should wear the national maritime flag, the Red Ensign, unless entitled to wear a special Ensign. Wearing anything other than an authorised Ensign is a violation of British and International Law.

As the Ensign takes the senior position on a vessel, the order of precedence for positions for flying other flags is: 2) masthead, 3) starboard spreader, 4) port spreader. This assumes a simple plan of one halyard per spreader; other combinations including motor boats are discussed in the Members’ section.

Traditionally, the burgee is flown at the main masthead. A burgee must match a special Ensign if one is worn and it should always be higher than the Ensign. Flag etiquette states that only one burgee is flown at a time, but it is not uncommon nowadays to see yachts flying more than one burgee. Although this might cause offence to some, there is nothing legally wrong with this practice provided the rules governing the wearing of a special ensign are adhered to.

The starboard spreaders are used for signalling. This is where both a courtesy flag and the Q flag, as signals, should be flown. These days it is becoming increasingly common for yachts to fly a burgee from the starboard spreaders because of instrumentation sited at the main masthead. Again, legally there is nothing wrong with doing so but this practice presents a number of problems for those who wish to adhere to the traditions of flag etiquette.

More than one flag may be flown on a halyard except that flag etiquette states that no flag can be above the burgee on the same halyard and no flag can be worn above the courtesy flag. If you fly a burgee at the starboard spreaders and are sailing in the territorial waters of another country this presents something of a dilemma, particularly if you must fly a burgee to match a special Ensign. Unless the burgee is in its traditional position at the masthead, you risk flouting one or another element of flag etiquette. How you choose to resolve this is a matter of choice.

A word on courtesy flags, most countries use their national flag at sea and it is therefore not uncommon to see a foreign visitor flying a Union Jack as a courtesy flag when visiting UK waters. This is wrong; the correct flag is always a Red Ensign. There is no legal requirement to fly a courtesy flag; it is a courtesy that acknowledges that the vessel will respect the laws and sovereignty of that country. However, if one is not flown or it is tatty or faded, it may cause grave offence and in some countries can lead to a fine.

The port spreaders are used for house flags. A house flag is normally but not always a small rectangular version of a burgee. It may indicate membership of an association (i.e. the RYA) or society or may be to indicate membership of another club should that club have a house flag.  More than one house flag may be flown on the port halyard, but with caution as too many might appear vulgar to some.

Land flags

The Union Jack, Welsh Dragon, the Crosses of St Andrew, St George and St Patrick and the EU flag are primarily land flags and must not be flown at sea as an Ensign by cruising yachtsmen. At sea the cross of St George is the flag of an Admiral and it should therefore not be flown by anyone else, without special dispensation. A vessel flying the St Andrew’s Cross could be mistaken as saying “my vessel is stopped and making no way through the water” as this is the meaning of code flag M which has the same design and the St Patrick s Cross could be misinterpreted as code flag V “I require assistance”.

Union Jack or Union flag?

There is often a lively debate about which term is correct. In fact both terms are acceptable having been given parliamentary approval in 1908 when it was stated that “the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag”.

Sizing your flags

The sizes and condition of flags are important. They should not be tatty and should not hang in the water, but should still be large enough to be seen.

The best advice is “what looks right” but a rough guide is:

Ensign

The general guideline for the size of Ensign used to be an inch per foot of yacht, but on many modern yachts this is found to be a little on the small side for the vessel to look “well dressed”. Roughly speaking a 3/4 yard Ensign should look right on a boat of 21-26 ft, 1 yard for 27- 34 ft, 1 1/4 yard for 35 – 42 ft, 1 1/2 yard for 43 – 50 ft and 1 3/4 yard for 51 – 60 ft, but some discretion may need to be applied.

Burgee

A burgee of 15″ in the fly (the horizontal measurement) should look appropriate on vessels up to 34ft. This increases to 18″ for up to 42ft, 24″ for up to 50ft and 30″ up to 60 ft.

Courtesy Flag

Having an undersized, faded or tatty courtesy flag in many places is worse than having no courtesy flag. Again as a guide only, 12″ in the fly should look appropriate for 21-26 ft, 15″ for 27- 34 ft, 18″ for 35 – 42 ft, 22″ for 43 – 50 ft and 30″ for 51 – 60 ft. Availability may however end up dictating the size of the flag.

House flags

A house flag of a similar size to those listed for the courtesy flag will generally be appropriate.

Special Ensigns

In addition to the national maritime flag, the Red Ensign, there is a White Ensign, a Blue Ensign and there are a number of Red Ensigns with a badge, Blue Ensigns with a badge and a light blue Ensign with a badge. These additional Ensigns are special or privileged Ensigns may only be worn with permission, which is granted ultimately by the Queen.

A warrant grants this permission and the Ensign must be worn in accordance with the warrant, which will in most cases require the corresponding burgee to be displayed. In most cases the warrant is granted to a Yacht Club, which in turns gives its members permission to wear the Ensign under the conditions of the warrant, by issuing the members with a permit.

The RYA has no power to police the wearing of Ensigns or prohibited flags other than by spreading the word about flag etiquette and encouraging good practice.