Training

Crossing the Channel – Handy French Vocabulary for Sailors

Sailors Jargon in French

The French you learn at school is not always the vocabulary you want when surrounded by French sailors at a festival, or trying to talk to red trousered locals on the quayside in a seafaring Breton port. If you want to brag about your adventures crossing the Channel, force 7 won’t mean much, even to a french sailor.

Equally trying to explain to a taxi driver in a big French port that you need taking to accommodation that is not a hotel but a bateau grande called ‘Morgenster’ in a French port could create an international incident, especially if you sound a bit German.

Another moment when you might have to stand your ground and shout something ‘technical’ in a language we can all understand is out on the water at a maritime festival with an over friendly bowsprit bearing down on you.

Swear words are not what we mean…..

Types of Boat

  • Sailing yacht – voilier
  • Gaff Cutter – Cotre franc or aurique
  • Brig (like Morgenster) – Brick
  • Schooner – goelette
  • Long keel  – quille longue

Exaggerating about the weather

  • Gale – coup de vent
  • Storm – tempete
  • Hurricane – ouragan
  • Lightning strike – foudre
Crossing the Channel on Brixham Trawler Provident
Crossing the Channel on Brixham Trawler Provident

Pesky Port Officials

  • Harbourmaster – Capitaine du Port
  • Harbour dues – Droits de port
  • Customs – Douanes
  • Length overall (LOA) – longuer hors tout
  • Waterline length – ligne de flottaison
  • Draft – tirant d’eau
  • Next port of call – prochaine escale
  • Crew list – list d’equipage

Scrounging from Boat Builders

  • Bolt – boulon
  • Nail – clou
  • Screw – vis
  • Wooden dowell – cheville
  • Scarf joint – écart

Sails – See Provident Line Drawing

  1. Mizzen – artemon, tape-cul
  2. Mainsail – grand voile
  3. Topsail – fleche
  4. Staysail – Voile d’etat
  5. Jib – foc

Roller furling headsail – génois â enrouleur

Brixham Sailing Trawler Provident - Sail names in French
Brixham Sailing Trawler Provident – Sail names in French

Crewing on a French Boat

  • Head to wind – nez dans le vent
  • Port tack – babord amures
  • Starboard tack – tribord amures
  • To go about – virer au vent
  • “ready about?” – Paré a virer
  • Lee ho – Envoyer
  • Full and bye – au pres bon plein
  • Running (downwind) – vent arriere
  • To gybe – empanner, gambeyer
France is a good place to buy rope and traditional boat gear
France is a good place to buy rope and traditional boat gear

When it gets too crowded in an anchorage or port

  • Bowsprit – beaupré
  • Mast – mât
  • topmast – mât de fleche
  • Boom – bome
  • Gaff and gaff jaws – corne et machoires
  • Yard – vergue

Things that should have been in the Bosun’s Bag

  • Shackle and pin – manille et vis
  • Jubilee clip – coullier de serrage
  • Spilt pin – goupille fendue
  • Marlin spike – épissoir
Bosuns bag for rope and sail repairs
Bosuns bag for rope and sail repairs
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