Foreign Ports – Flags & Protocols

With crews having completed many of the jobs on their “To Do” list in preparation for the race, some items for the more leisurely part of the trip are suddenly surfacing. A couple of weeks ago, the Organising Committee received this question in relation to the cruise following the race.

“Would you have any details regarding protocols for entering Saipan, Micronesia and New Caledonia please? Do we need to contact officials before arrival or return and are their other items that we might require for entry?”

Committee member, past competitor and eternal cruising skipper George Shaw put a few notes together to help answer the question. George felt that alongside these details, some pointers on the use of flags when entering port would also be good information to have and so we’ll start with those.

As seen from bow.


Flags should be displayed from the spreaders of the main mast. The flag of the Country of registration must be flown from Port side spreader and the flag of the Country being visited must be flown from the Starboard spreader. The quarantine flag ‘Q” Yellow must be flown beneath the host country flag from the starboard spreader. This Q flag must remain in place until immigration authorities advise it can be taken down.

Other than carrying the flags of the countries that you may visit on the cruise home, it’s advisable that you carry the flags of each country that you will pass through on your way to Osaka. So that’s Australia, Papua New Guinea, Federated States of Micronesia, (USA) Marianas including Guam & Saipan and Japan.


There are numerous ports to visit on the journey while heading south between Japan and Australia. George highlighted a few that he felt were worth mentioning.

One of the best resources for cruising yachts is the website Noonsite. From this excellent site you can obtain information for every country you wish to visit. There is well documented advice available on the web for safety concerns in isolated areas.
These are considered safe for cruising however precautions should always be taken to preserve boat, dinghy & personal safety.

If you are not planning to stop at the Ogasawara Isalnds you can clear Japan at Osaka or any port with relevant authorities. You can clear out at Chichi Jima if you want to visit the Ogasawara Group. You can obtain more information by Emailing – or go to

Guam is a USA base & very strict on protocols, see ‘ Noonsite/USA/immigration’. Visiting yachts are required to have a current USA visa to enter Guam. I suggest you visit Saipan instead of Guam. Saipan is far more relaxed. On arrival call the Port Captain on Ch16 for directions.

The various harbours are very welcoming and are the people are poor. School supplies & fishing/snorkeling gear are well received. After anchoring a visit to the island chief to request permission to use the safe harbour is a protocol. A gift of coffee & sugar (or something similar) for the island chief is expected. Check out the arrival requirements information on ‘Noonsite / Pohnpei’.

This is a French colony & strict adherance to protocols is expected.
Entry requirements can be found on

Papua New Guniea is a fascinating place to visit however protocols can be tedious. Check out Noonsite – Papua New Guinea – Formalities. Something to be aware of: – When I visited Kavieng (New Ireland) I was given forms to import my yacht into NG instead of immigration clearance.

(This note for boats coming down from Japan)
Australia has very strict arrival requirements and heavy fines if rules are not obeyed. Check out again Noonsite – Australia – Formalities. You must give 96 hours notice of your arrival but you can advise of pending arrival up to 90 days before expected arrival.

Ships Papers

The immigration & customs authorities will also ask to see your yacht registration papers, passports etc. If staying in a marina you will be asked to show your ‘Public Liability’ insurance.

Currently one of our Japanese competitors is on his way down to Australia and is scheduled to visit one or two of these ports over the next few weeks. Updates will be posted on our Facebook page and you can follow their progress on the Tracker.