Day Shape

US Coast Guard and international regulations require that boats longer than 7 meters fly a day shape during daylight hours. A day shape is a simple, geometric shape flown on the mast or riggings that tells others what kind of activity the boat is engaged in, and the requirement to fly a day shape is part of international maritime regulations that have been in effect since the mid-1800's.

Commercial fishing vessels are required to fly a day shape that consists of two cones, and those cone shapes must be in the form of nets or trawls. This regulation actually applies to boats longer than 20 meters, while the Lila Aurora is only 13 meters long, but we fly the day shape nevertheless.

Day shapes are probably our favorite part of maritime regulations. Day shapes seem like a throwback to the olden days when knowing what another vessel was doing would help you safely navigate crowded waters. If we're being honest, we have never maneuvered the Lila Aurora based on another boat's day shape. Many of the day shapes we see in Alaska are pretty hard to spot. but at least the day shapes are there, giving us a connection to mariners that were on the sea centuries before.

Our day shape is typical of day shapes in Alaska. Ours measures about 2 feet from end to end, and is made of a mesh that was probably intended as part of a crab or shrimp trap. There is a metal ring at each end, and the waist is formed by some twine tied around the mesh. The day shape is hung about 15 feet above the deck of the Lila Aurora, near the mast, with some heavy monofilament fishing line. This photo was taken in August, 2022 in Tutka Bay south of Homer, Alaska.


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