It’s a well-worn cliche from the 1950s – “Run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes” – but, today, you can have your own American flagpole and flags for guests to salute, respect, and admire.
Flagpoles have long been de rigueur for seaports and yacht clubs, but waterfront homeowners are now also enjoying the prestige and pleasures of their own mast.
Flagpoles are no longer clunky wooden poles or recycled aluminum sailboat masts. Taking full advantage of fiberglass that won’t rust, rot or corrode in variable coastal conditions, modern flagpoles are electrically non-conductive, and absorb sound – which means no more banging of snaps on a metal pole in a breeze.
Flagpoles come in varying heights to fit your ocean home, and in three distinct styles. The most traditional, and the one seen at most yacht clubs, has a crosspiece called a yardarm as well as an angled gaff.
A second version has just the yardarm, and the simplest (and least expensive) is a single pole. If you want to fly only the American flag, all you need is a single pole. But if you want more flags fluttering in the ocean breeze, opt for a flagpole with a yardarm and perhaps a gaff.
Installation of a flagpole is straightforward, although you’ll need a crane for the final lift. Dig a hole, embed a sleeve in concrete, and slide the base of the flagpole into the sleeve once the concrete has dried.
Be aware, flag etiquette is taken seriously, and woe betide anyone who violates flag laws – flouting flag rules reportedly cost one high-profile real estate tycoon $100,000 at one of his oceanfront estates.
The basic rule: Unless you have a gaff, nothing goes above the American flag. Yardarms are used by many yacht clubs to fly the flags of officers at the club, but you can also use this for your own purposes.
If you have a gaff, attach the American flag to it, and then use the top of the flagpole for a personal flag of your own design called a “private signal.” If you’re a corporatepresident or CEO, you could incorporate the company logo. You’re a fisherman? How about a rod and reel?
Use the yardarm for fun signals: A martini flag means it’s sundowner cocktail hour, and a barbecue flag means it’s time to eat. A battle-axe flag could mean the mother-in-law is in residence – although flying that is at your own peril.
At night, take the U.S. flag down or make sure it is illuminated properly after dark by a floodlight. A flagpole is not only fun and decorative, but it also adds a nautical flair that complements any ocean home.
Image Credits: Photo courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty/ Jake Rajs.