What did people do if they needed to talk to someone on another boat before the phones were available? The easiest way to do so was to send a message to someone else using a series of flags. If you simply write the letter on the flag, it is easy for that person to get confused. From a long way in the distance, how are you going to be able to figure out what the letter says? It is easy for people to get confused, which is why there are different symbols for each letter. With a nautical flag alphabet, there is a clear and obvious pattern that makes up a letter. Then, if you string all the letters together, you can put together the entire message.
Just like sign language, it is possible for someone to use a flag to replace a letter or to send an entire message. For example, if there is a flag that is all red, that is the letter B. On the other hand, a flag that is all red can also indicate that there is dangerous cargo on board. In addition, there is another flag that has a yellow stripe on the top and bottom. Then, the middle portion of the flag is blue. If you see this flag, it stands for the letter D. On the other hand, this flag can also indicate that people need to keep clear. Finally, another example is a flag that is red, white, and blue from left to right. These are vertical stripes. This indicates that someone should stay clear of the boat, but it can also stand for the letter T.
Yes, there are a lot of similarities between the nautical flag alphabet and the aviation alphabet. Even though planes are not going to use flags with colors on them, the code names are the same. For example, the flag for the letter A is still called Alpha, which is the same as the aviation alphabet. Then, the flag for the letter B is also Bravo, the same as the aviation alphabet. Because there are situations where pilots might need to land on a boat, it only makes sense that there should be a lot of crossover between the two alphabets.
Another important point is that there are also nautical flags for numbers. For example, the number one is represented by the Japanese flag. It is a white flag with a red circle in the center. Then, the number two is represented by a blue flag with a white circle in the center. The number eight is represented by the English flag, which is a white flag with a red cross in the middle. Therefore, it is possible to use nautical flags to spell out words in addition to numbers.