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Hello Sailor!
Maritime Signal Flags for Everyday Use

Signal flags have been around for centuries. Once an international code was established, as long as line-of-site was possible, messages were able to be sent between vessels at sea over great distances. Frequently used warnings and information became so well known that even a complex communication could be conveyed by a single flag displaying certain colours in a specific pattern; and when one such signal was flying, no sailor was in doubt as to its meaning. If a similar system would work on land it might prevent the antics of some people being misinterpreted. Here are a few suggestions:

Message to Seafarers

Signal Flag

Message to Landlubbers

I wish to communicate with you.


What are you - deaf, or something?

Vessel is healthy. Request free pratique.
(permission to enter port after being given a clean bill of health)


I swear I haven't touched a drop
all night, Ossiffer.

Diver down.
Keep well clear at low speed.


The toilet's blocked,
but a plumber's fixing it.

Keep clear of me.
I am engaged in pair trawling.


Back off, buddy!
I saw them first.

Taking in, discharging,
or carrying dangerous goods.


The septic's being pumped out.
Don't strike a match.

Keep clear.
I am manoevring with difficulty.


Watch out!
This shopping cart has
a mind of its own.

All persons to repair on board.
Vessel about to sail.


If you're not home in five minutes
I'm giving your dinner
to the dog!

Man overboard.


One of your drunken mates
just fell off the balcony.

And finally:
Admiral Nelson's famous signal to the English fleet:
England expects that every man will do his DUTY.

numerous flags

Landlubbers' version:
My Mother's only here for the weekend.
Surely you can keep your big mouth shut for that long?

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