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image by Mark Sensen, 9 November 2003
Official Name: Netherlands Antilles
Previous Name: Curaçao and Dependencies
Government Type: Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with Full Autonomy in Internal Affairs
Flag adopted: 1 January 1986
ISO Code: AN (code transitionally reserved for 50 years)
Dissolved: 10 October 2010
The postal administration of the Netherlands Antilles issued
(30 June 1995) six new stamps with the flags and the coats of
arms of the islands. The islands consist out of: Curaçao,
Bonaire, St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius. Only the last islands
don't have a flag and coat of arms of their own. St Eustatius
uses the flag and coat of arms of the Netherlands Antilles as its
national symbols. The Postal Service of the Netherlands Antilles
issued the booklet 'Flag Issue 1995 / Vlaggenserie 1995'
with full details on the history and use of the national symbols
of the islands.
Jos Poels, 4 August 1995
According to Album 2000 [pay00]
- Netherlands Antilles - The flag of the Netherlands Antilles is
white in proportions 2:3, on the center of the length a red
vertical stripe, and on the center of the height a blue
horizontal stripe across the red stripe. The width of both
stripes is one-third of the flag height. On the center of the
blue stripe are five white five pointed stars. The diameter of
the imaginary circle emscribing a star is one-fourth of the
height of the blue stripe. The colours red, white and blue refer
to the Dutch flag, the five stars symbolise the five islands.
Adopted by Country-Order of 31 December 1985, comming effective 1
January 1986. The First Flag was
adopted by Country-Order of 19 November 1959, and had six stars.
One star was dropped because Aruba left in
The centre of the topmost and bottommost stars are located at two imaginary horizontal lines. The first line at one-sixth of the height of the blue stripe under the upper edge of the blue stripe, the second line at one-sixth of the height of the blue stripe above the lower edge of the blue stripe. The centre of the topmost star is located at the centre of the first imaginary line. The centres of the bottommost stars are located on the second imaginary line at such a way, that an isoscele triangle is formed with the centre of the topmost star, with an angle of 45 degrees at the top. The centre of the leftmost star is located by forming another isoscele triangle with the centre of the topmost star and the centre of the left star at the bottom, again with an angle of 45 degrees at the top. Likewise the centre of the rightmost star is located.
Mark Sensen, 1 and 2 November 2003
Officially lowering the Netherlands Antilles' flag (videos):
Jan Mertens, 11 October 2010
image by eljko Heimer, 5 November 2003
image from Ralf Hartemink site
The politicians on Curaçao, and also some on St.Maarten, now
wanted a Status Aparte as Aruba .
However, during referendums held in November 1993 (Curaçao) and
October 1994 (Bonaire, St.Maarten, St.Eustatius and Saba) large
majorities of the people voted to remain part of the Netherlands
Apart from 1) the 'status quo' option and 2) Status Aparte, there were 2 other options, both receiving very few votes: 3) (overseas) province of the Netherlands; 4) full independence.
Mark Sensen, 4 May 1999
I read today in the International Herald Tribune that St. Maarten has just voted for separation
from Netherlands Antilles within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Well, I suppose the island will keep on flying its actual flag,
but there will probably be a new flag for Neth. Antilles, one of
the 5 stars having to be removed, if they follow the same logic
than they did in 1986 when Aruba broke away. The article I read
didn't say when the separation will happen.
Olivier Touzeau, 26 June 2000
First of all it was a consulting, non-binding referendum, the
other options apart from the favoured "status aparte"
(68.9%) being "status quo" (3.7%),
"independence" (14.2%), and "stronger position
within the Neth.Antilles" (11.6%).
Secondly, the Dutch politicians are not in favour of a Status Aparte for Sint Maarten. And when Sint Maarten will leave the Neth.Antilles, the question is what Sint Eustatius and Saba will do. There is e.g. a majority on Saba that wants to become a province of the Netherlands in that case.
Mark Sensen, 26 June 2000
Looking at a map, one has the distinct impression that the
whole thing is completely wrong: Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are
just north of Venezuela, and 1000 km to NE are Sint Maarten, Sint
Eustatius and Saba. That's the geographical setting.
But the political divisions are Aruba as a separate territory and the Dutch Antilles covering everything else. Now, if Sint Maarten breakes away to a status of separate autonomy, things will become even more strange.
António Martins, 28 June 2000
Today, the report "The time is now, lets do
it!" (so-called Jesurun Report) with plans for reformation
of the Netherlands Antilles was presented to Kingdom Relations
Minister Thom de Graaf. It includes the next idea for a
new political division:
1. The country Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist
2. Curaçao and St. Maarten will both receive the status of autonomous country within the Kingdom (like Aruba already has since 1986)
3. Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba will each receive the status of "Koninkrijkseiland" ("Kingdoms Island")
More info (in Dutch) at the website of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations at <www.minbzk.nl>. Final decisions about the adoption of the plans will probably be taken at a Round Table Conference in 2005. If the reformations will take place it will have effect on some flags:
- the flag of the Netherlands Antilles, as well as the flag of the gouvernour of the Netherlands Antilles, will be abolished
- flags for the gouvernours of Curaçao and St. Maarten will (probably) be introduced.
Mark Sensen, 8 October 2004
The proposed new four-starred flag for the
Netherlands Antilles will not be adopted as not only is
Sint-Maarten seceding, so is Curaçao. The Dutch government has
announced plans for both islands to leave the Netherlands
Antilles and although no firm timetable is announced it is likely
that the change will take in 2005 or 2006. Both Curaçao and
Sint-Maarten will have the same wide-ranging autonomy that is
presently enjoyed by Aruba, which withdrew from the Netherlands
Antilles in 1986. The three remaining small poorly populated
islands of the (reduced) Netherlands Antilles will have a new
status, without the responsible government - legislature, Prime
Minister and Council of Ministers - that will exist in Aruba,
Sint-Maarten, and Curaçao. Both Curaçao and Sint-Maarten, of
course, already have flags.
Clive Carpenter, 22 November 2004
Today's edition of The Times newspaper carries an obituary for
Bernard Komproe, who only recently became the Prime Minister of
the Netherlands Antilles, or the Antilles Federation, as it has
been more recently known as.
In conclusion, the obituary states: Coincidentally, an official proposal to end the Antilles Federation, backed by both the Dutch and Antilles Governments, has just been made public. It is considered very likely to be agreed, and a round- table conference next Spring will discuss details. For international purposes, the official designation of all the former Dutch colonies in the Caribbean, together with The Netherlands itself, remains The Kingdom of The Netherlands. Curaçao, and St. Maarten, with Aruba (which seceded from the federation in 1986), will enjoy separate status. The smaller states of Saba, St. Eustatius, and Bonaire have opted for a status close to that of a province of The Netherlands.
Ron Lahav, 22 November 2004
Note that The Times writes about the "Netherlands
Antilles federation", so federation with a small
"f". In other words, the Netherlands Antilles are still
the Netherlands Antilles, not the Antilles Federation. See also
my message of 8 October 2004.
Mark Sensen, 22 November 2004
Coincidentally, an official proposal to end the Antilles
Federation, backed by both the Dutch and Antilles Governments,
has just been made public. It is considered very likely to be
agreed, and a round- table conference next Spring will discuss
From Intelligence Research Ltd, October 12, 2004:
"Recolonisation initiatives are a rare occurrence, and even rarer are those with a chance of prospering. The Netherlands Antilles may become such a rarity. The special commission set up by the governments of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, under the direction of former Antillean governor Edsel Jesurun, has recommended breaking up this entity and returning three of its smallest components - Saba, Bonaire and Sint Eustatius - to direct rule from The Hague. Curaçao and Sint Maarten would be given the same status as the earlier breakaway, Aruba: autonomous countries within the Dutch Kingdom, alongside the Netherlands. This would spell the disappearance of the central government of the Netherlands Antilles (much of it would be subsumed into the new government of Curaçao), but the commission recommends retaining, under a 'cooperative' arrangement, such institutions as the central bank, the social security bank and the pension funds. Though the recommendations are not binding, both of the commissioning governments have said they would 'weigh heavily' on their decisions. The Jesurun commission has counselled speed: a formal political agreement between both countries by the end of this year, a conference in mid 2005 to sort out the constitutional aspects (which entail changes to the Kingdom Charter and the Islands Regulation, and presumably the scrapping of the Antillean Constitution, plus the groundwork for the new constitutions of Curaçao and Sint Maarten). Along the line, there will have to be discussions on the financial aspects of such matters as providing security for the new autonomous countries; the commission specifically cites security needs as one of the reasons for the overhaul."
David C. Fowler, 23 November 2004
El Caribe, the principal daily newspaper in the
Dominican Republic, reports that the Netherlands Antilles will be
dissolved in 2007.
Ron Lahav, 28 November 2005
See my message of 8 October 2004. Saterday the start of Round
Table Conference mentioned at that post took place.
Nothing new, apart from the fact that the new status for Bonaire,
St. Eustatius and Saba isn't called "Koninkrijkseiland"
("Kingdoms Island") but a new status of special nature
("sui generis"). The aim is for 1 July 2007 for the
political changes to take effect. For more info (in Dutch)
see the official website of the Dutch Ministry of the Interior
and Kingdom Relations at <www.minbzk.nl>.
Mark Sensen, 28 November 2005
have browsed that site a bit, and there was little information
about the new status. Even the recent referenda on all islands
are not mentioned. The Antillians were presented several options
and the islands of Curaçao, Bonaire and St. Maarten opted for a
"status aparte", like Aruba has now. Saba for something
else, so in future the Netherlands Antilles will consist of St.
Eustatius only. In fact The Netherlands want to get rid of the
Netherlands Antilles, and the Netherlands Antilles want to become
either the 13th province of The Netherlands, or even a
municipality like Urk or Schiermonnikoog. At present it seems
impossible to see what will happen next.
Jarig Bakker, 29 November 2005
Minister Nicolai of Kingdomrelations reached a historic
agreement with Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The islands will become
separate countries, like Aruba. That means that the co-operation
between the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles, as agreed
by the "Koninkrijksstatuut" of 1954, will end. It is
agreed that there will be a common court of justice of the
Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. There are also agreements
on policing and prosecution. The Netherlands will take care of
the debts of the Netherlands Antilles, totalling 2,5 billion
Euros. The Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist on 1 July
2007. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius will become Dutch
municipalities. Aruba is a separate entity since 1986.
No info about change of flags. The currency is also unclear, although it seems that Aruba might be forced to enter the Euro-zone(!)
Source: <www.nos.nl> reported by Stefan Lambrechts.
Jarig Bakker, 3 November 2006
Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist on July 1. At that
time two of the islands (Curaçao and Sint Maarten) will become
autonomous islands within the Netherlands, much like Aruba is
now. The other three islands (Bonaire, Saba, Sint
Eustatius) will become integral parts of the Netherlands, I belve
on the same status as towns. Of course all the individual
islands' flags will continue to exist, but Curaçao and Sint
Maarten's will probaby get greater exposure as autonomous
Sources: BBC , official government page.
David Kendall, 15 January 2007
The dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles is planned for 15
December 2008. (15 December is Kingdomsday, the day the Statute
of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was signed by Queen Juliana in
1954). This was agreed on Sint Maarten yesterday. Sint Maarten
will become a land within the kingdom, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius
and Saba will become special municipalities of the Netherlands.
The Island Council of Curaçao rejected the final agreement in
the end of last year. However, the Dutch government doesn't want
to re-open the negotiations. Nevertheless it is most likely
Curaçao will also become a separate land.
According to the official website of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, 12 Dec. 2008 is the target date. The first target date was 1 July 2007.
I'm not sure what caused the delay, I think there are various reasons. Apart from Curaçao's situation maybe also the elections end of last year followed by the formation of a new government (right today) over here in the Netherlands. And 1 July was very ambitious from the very start in my opinion.
So, as from 15 December 2008 the Kingdom of the Netherlands will consist of four countries:
- The Netherlands (incl. the three special municipalities Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba)
- Sint Maarten.
Sources: <www.nu.nl>, <www.minbzk.nl>.
Mark Sensen, 13 February 2007
Wikipedia, in separate articles on each entity, notes this has
been delayed until December 2008, with different dates for each
entity: Sint Maarten is listed at December 15, 2008 and Curaçao
for December 28, 2008.
The Dutch government's announcement on Sint Maarten is at <www.government.nl>.
Phil Nelson, 5 July 2007
According to the official
web site of the Netherland Antilles Olympic Committee (NAOC),
it has been agreed that in view of an imminent separation of the
constituent islands, the ANOC will keep a status quo,
after such break up takes effect.
Thats to mean that, even Sint Maarten and Curaçao become separate entities, they will continue to take part in sports events as now.
This is because international bodies such as FIFA and IOC does not admit dependent territories anymore. The question remains, if Netherlands Antilles cease to exist in 2008, which flag shall be flown by its sportsmen and sportswomen.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 29 July 2007
That's for sure that the Netherlands Antilles are to
desappear, it is just a matter to know or to determine when.
"The Netherlands and The Netherlands Antilles and Aruba have reached agreement on the new status for the islands. At the Round Table Conference in Curaçao on the 15th of December Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, State secretary Bijleveld and Antillean Prime Minister De Jongh-Elhage signed an accord on the new status.
The islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten will become autonomous territories, while Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius will become Dutch municipalities. The last conditions of dissolution will be discussed and finalized in 2009."
See also: <www.government.nl>.
According to <www.nrc.nl>:
"St Maarten, which started the process of the break up of the Dutch Antilles by voting for an independent status in a referendum in 2000, wants the Dutch government to commit to January 1 2010 as an official date. But Bijleveld has already stated that the final date will only be established at the last conference. It is public knowledge that the cabinet does not expect the new status of the Dutch Antilles to become reality before 2011."
Surely each island will keep its current flag and coat of arms, however, It has been told that regarding international sports, all five islands
should be represented as "Netherlands Antilles" (an eventually innexistent country).
Will Athletes fly the same flag as they do now?
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán, 2 February 2009
The Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist on October 10
next year (2010). The Netherlands Antilles have decided this last
Wednesday, September 30.
The Netherlands Antilles arose in 1954 as an autonomous entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Until the achievement of the Status Aparte (separate status) for Aruba on January 1, 1986 the Dutch Antilles consisted of the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, St Eustatius and St Maarten (St. Martin). They were represented by the six stars in the 1959 flag of the Netherlands Antilles.
With the separation of Aruba in 1986 one star was dropped, to represent the five islands left in the Netherlands Antilles.
The remaining five islands in the Netherlands Antilles will on 10 October 2010 go their own political way. Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius will become special oversees municipalities of the Netherlands.
Curaçao and St. Maarten will get the same status as Aruba already has achieved.
The current flag of the Netherlands Antilles will cease to exist. The flags of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius will become Dutch municipality flags.
The flags of St. Maarten and Curcacao will get the same status as the flag of Aruba now.
From October 10, 2010 the Kingdom of the Netherlands will consist of: The Netherlands, Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten.
Jos Poels, 1 October 2009
Via Benevex Stefan Lambrechts reported (translation of Jarig Bakker):
According to a new law (WOLBES) the BES-islands (Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius and Saba) will have the same relationship after 10 October 2010 as Dutch municipalities; Curaçao and Sint Maarten will then become new countries within the Kingdom. In the early morning of 10 October the flag with the 5 stars will be hauled down in Kralendijk (Bonaire), Oranjestad (Sint Eustatius) and The Bottom (Saba; instead two new ones will be hoisted: the island-flag and at the Regional Service Center (RSC, a kind of Secretariat of Home Affairs) a flag with the national logo, like in the Netherlands.
After 10-10-2010 the Vaalserberg (Limburg province) won't be the highest of the Netherlands any longer: Mount Scenery, an extinct volcano, on Saba Island will be it, with 870 meters. Saba will also be the only Dutch municipality with tropical rainforest. Source: Binnenlands Bestuur 39 2010, 1-10-2010
"De wet voor het nieuwe openbaar lichaam (WOLBES) houdt in dat de BES-eilanden (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba) na 10 oktober een zelfde relatie met het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken krijgen als Nederlandse gemeenten; Curaçao en Sint Maarten worden per die datum nieuwe landen binnen het Koninkrijk. Als in de vroege morgen van 10 oktober in Kralendijk (Bonaire), Oranjestad (Sint Eustatius) en The Bottom (Saba) de Antilliaanse vlag met vijf sterren wordt gestreken, worden er daarvoor in de plaats twee gehesen: de eigen eilandvlag en op het Regionaal Service Centrum (RSC, een soort ministerie van Algemene Zaken) die met het Rijkslogo, zoals in Nederland. In eerste instantie wilde staatssecretaris Bijleveld (CDA) van BZK de Regionale Service Centra 'Uitvoeringskantoren' noemen, maar dat wezen de eilanden af: het klonk te koloniaal.
De Vaalserberg is na 10-10-2010 niet langer het hoogste punt van Nederland. Dat wordt de dode vulkaan Mount Scenery op Saba met zijn 870 meter. Saba is ook de enige Nederlandse gemeente met een
stukje tropisch regenwoud.
Bron: Binnenlands Bestuur 39 2010, 1-10-2010
Stefan Lambregts and Jarig Bakker, 3 October 2010
The Kingdom of the Netherlands consists of four
separate countries: Aruba, Curaçao,
Netherlands and Sint Maarten. All
are autonomous in their internal affairs. The Kingdom takes care of foreign
affairs and defence. For Kingdom affairs there is a special Kingdom government,
consisting of the Netherlands ministers plus one minister for each of the other
This system has been in place since 1954 (with Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles and Surinam), so there is nothing new happening. (see Wikipedia under Kingdom of the Netherlands).
The three BES-islands are now 'public bodies' of the Netherlands (ex art. 134 of the Constitution) and will become normal municipalities in due course.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a UN member. The islands Aruba and NA were (one) member of UPU and observers of several other organizations (UNWTO etc.).
The expectations is that this will be changed to Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten as one member/observer.
The Olympic Comittee has changed the rules for membership of non-indepentent entities. Existing members will stay a normal member, but new non-independent members will not be admitted. This means that Aruba stays a IOC member, but Curaçao and Sint Maarten athletes will have to be part of the Netherlands team.
Maxim van Ooijen, 11 October 2010
Since July 2007 there is a new article 31.1 in the Olympic Charter (see
below). This means that non-independent countries can no longer become an IOC
member. NOCs that were members of the IOC before 2007 can remain a member
(American Samoa, Aruba, Bermuda etc.). Others can not become a member anymore
(Northern Marianas, Faroe Islands, New Caledonia).
The NAOC has tried, but apparently lost. Since there is also a rule that athletes participating for a NOC should be a citizen of that country. This would mean that no athletes from Curaçao or Sint Maarten can go to the Olympic Games any more, since they are not citizens of the Netherlands or Aruba, but of other countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
See also (opens as a Word document):
31 Country and Name of an NOC
1. In the Olympic Charter, the expression "country" means an independent State recognised by the international community.
Maxim van Ooijen, 11 October 2010
ISO has issued new country codes for islands in the Dutch West Indies to
reflect their new administrative status following constitutional reform by the
government of the Netherlands.
The islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten become autonomous countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with the following two-letter and three-letter country codes issued under the ISO standard, ISO 3166-1:
Sint Maarten (Dutch part) - SX SXM
Curaçao - CW CUW
The islands of Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba become Dutch municipalities which are assigned the following ISO 3166-1 code:
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba - BQ BES
The codes for the Netherlands Antilles are deleted from ISO 3166-1 and transitionally reserved for a period of 50 years:
Netherlands Antilles - AN ANT
Source: http://www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1383 2010-12-20
Jarig Bakker, 29 December 2010
image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 26 Febuary 2002
According the results of the referendum held in June 23, 2000,
in Sint Maarten (the Netherlands part of the Caribbean island of
Saint Marten), this territory is becoming a "new country
within the Kingdom of the Netherlands", in other words, Sint
Maarten is seceding from Netherlands Antilles. This is taking
place on nest 1 June 2002.
The question is if will keep the Neth. Antilles the same flag or will it change?
According information requested by myself to the government of the Neth. Antilles, via e-mail, the flag will be changed: to the current flag will be drop off a star, remaining four, one for each component island: Curaçao, Bonaire, Saba and Saint Eustatius. The stars are displaying like a rhombus.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 26 Febuary 2002
image by Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 27 Febuary 2002
This a variant of the future Netherlands Antilles flag to be
adopted on June 1, 2002, when Sint Maartin seced from it. The
lateral (near-hoist and near-fly) stars are more separated,
remarking the rhombus shape.
Juan Manuel Gabino Villascan, 27 Febuary 2002
Although there was a majority for a "status aparte"
in the (consulting) referendum, and there have been some talks I
think with the rest of the Netherlands Antilles, I never heard
the new status was granted >However, to be sure I mailed the
Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations and a
newspaper on the Neth. Antilles. When I receice an answer I will
Mark Sensen, 27 Febuary 2002
I don't have an answer from the ministry yet. But I received
one from the newspaper Amigoe at Curaçao, and they don't know
anything about it. I also got an answer from Jos Poels who is in
contact with a journalist working for a Dutch newspaper in
Curaçao. He wrote it's very unlikely a Status Aparte ever will be
Mark Sensen, 1 March 2002
Habitat Curaçao Seahorse Flag
image from <www.habitatdiveresorts.com>
Habitat Bonaire Pirate flag
image from <www.habitatdiveresorts.com>
On <www.uitgeverijwvdoever.nl> (defunct) was a flag
without any explanation, just "Habitat Curaçao - Curaçao,
Netherlands Antilles". At <www.habitatdiveresorts.com/Curaçao>
the same flag and an advertisement for a local resort, aiming to
keep diving clean. At <www.habitatdiveresorts.com>
the flag is waving, along with a kind of pirate flag, and a bit
of info: "Capt. Don Stewart, founder of Habitat, is
recognized worldwide as a leader in the movement to protect our
underwater environment. Shortly after arriving on Bonaire in May
of 1962 he opened the island's very first dive operation. In 1977
he created Capt. Don's Habitat and pioneered the "Diving
Freedom" concept which each year continues to further
Habitat's reputation for providing fun, safe and innovative dive
The pirate flag is the flag of Habitat Bonaire.
Jarig Bakker, 10 June 2003
Red background with descending white sword diagonally (common
part of both flags) surely makes me think of scuba diving and
António Martins, 12 June 2003
Storm Warning Signals according to this WMO
page the Netherlands Antilles use the well-known US signal set but with local
- 40a (red pierced black): "Gale warning: winds 39 miles an hour (34 kt) and upwards." The only signal used on Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire.] Also used on St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius were it means something else: "Whole gale warning: winds within the range 55 to 73 miles an hour (48 to 63 kt)."
Further St Maarten, Saba, and St Eustatius signal flags:
- 41a (double set of red pierced black): "Hurricane warning: winds 74 miles an hour (64 kt) and upwards."
- 39a (double set of red pennants): "Gale warning: winds within the range 39-54 miles an hour (34-47 kt)."
- 56a (red pennant): "Small craft warning: winds and seas or sea conditions are only dangerous to small craft operations. Winds range up to 38 miles an hour (33 kt)."
I suppose the difference in use is climatologically justified.
Jan Mertens, 16 March 2008