November 2017: One flag just isn't enough

Gondola's sea serpent

This month the blog is dedicated to all you vexillologists out there.

Vexillology is the study of flags - from the Latin word 'vexillum' (flag) and the Greek suffix 'logia' (study), but I guess the flag-spotters amongst you already know that.

What you may not know is that Steam Yacht Gondola cruises around Coniston Water flying a total of four flags.

At at the bow flies the ‘Pilot Jack’. If you’ve ever travelled by ferry to the continent you may have noticed the same flag flying at the bow of UK-registered ferries. The white border around the elongated Union Flag traditionally indicates that the Skipper is qualified to navigate the vessel independently without the assistance of a pilot.

Moving further down the boat there are two more flags on the coach roof. The upper flag is the National Trust flag (a white oak leaf on a blue background) and below it flies the National Historic Ships UK house flag.

Three of Gondola's four flags
Three of Gondola's four flags

In case you were wondering, the roundel design of the National Historic Ships UK house flag represents the bow of a ship cutting through the waves – a little too 'Picasso-esque' if you ask me.

The final flag is located at the stern. It is a defaced ensign – ‘defaced’ because it includes the roundel emblem of National Historic Ships UK. As a historic ship, we have a special permit to fly this defaced ensign, a version of the UK national maritime flag, popularly known as the 'Red Duster'. 

I’d recommend you dash down to Coniston Water to see the flags in situ, but unfortunately we’re off the water now for the winter refit so the flags are safely tucked away in a box at Gondola HQ for their winter hibernation.