Jump to content

Any French Speaking Sailors here?


Recommended Posts

I’m eager to learn French and my sailing buddy speaks French, so I’m planning to take classes and then speak only French while sailing to re-inforce what I learn. 
 

But, although my friend speaks French, he doesn’t know sailing terms in French. 
 

Is there anyone who knows the French words for sailing terms like Port, starboard, tack trim, jibe, reef, luff, leach, halyard, sheet etc. might as well throw “aground” in there since it will be needed sooner than later.

 

We appreciate any help. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are plenty of resources in the internet, so Google is your friend.

My own advice (which worked very well, thank you) is to find a pretty and capable bilingual French sailor lass (or lad, if that's your preference) and learn the words across a pillow in the V-berth.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Non. 

Okay, un peu. Un petit peu.

Many sailing words we use are French.  Mayday is M'aidez, "help me".

Radio talk too.  When you need quiet, it's "SeeLonce", silence.

More radio.  You've got something others should know, It's "Saycuritay", accent on last syllable, to get them to listen in.

I can think of others.  Just not now.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sailing with the very nice French people in the marina, I learned the hard way about "le Fuck Up". They are kind and still let me sail with them.  Important phrase to know.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Spelling may be wrong and I don't know how to type all the special letters.  I learned by talking/listening. These people were from Brittany.

voilier = sailboat

bateau = boat
voile = sail
grand-voile = mainsail
foc = jib (pronounced almost like "fuck" in english)
leve la grande-voile (raise the main)
descend la grand-voile (lower the main)
lache = let go or release
attachez = cleat or tie it off
mat = mast

bome = boom

ponton = dock
le vent = the wind
Il y a beaucoup de vent = it's windy

Il n'y a pas beaucoup de vent = it's not very windy
Ca souffle = it's blowing
Ca monte = the wind is increasing (literally it means "it is going up.. if context is lacking you can say "Ca monte, le vent" to make it clear.
Ca descend = the wind is decreasing (literally it means "it is going down")

spi = spinnaker
putain = fuck (literally whore but used like "fuck" in english. It is very vulgar. Don't say it if you wouldn't say "fuck" in english.)
ca me fait chier = this pisses me off (also pretty vulgar.. more or less like saying "this is bullshit").
Calme plan = calm and flat or dead flat calm
Bordel = often used to describe a mess, or could just mean fuck (literally whorehouse). Vulgar.

epave = wreck or really shitty looking boat.
fait gaffe = watch out ( can be shouted when danger is imminent "fait gaffe la bome")
attention = watch out (often used to point out hazards ahead of time)

"I saw the voilier in the slip next to you."
"Voilier, you mean l'epave?"
"Hahah what a bordel!"
"You can laugh but I see it every day. Ca me fait chier."



 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Because there are so many technical terms on boats, vocabulary can be difficult. Backstays are a case in point.  Bastaques are running backstays, while a standing backstay is a pataras: two entirely different words. You need to be careful with the exact meaning of things as well.  'Lacher' is to let go.  'Choquer' is to ease. 'Border' to pull in, 'hisser' to hoist. Letting go the sheet is not the same as easing it.  Hoisting the jib is not the same as trimming it.  There are lots of reasons to be careful. People make mistakes too, interchanging stays and shrouds: étais and haubans, for example.   Regional variations come into play with things like boom vang and kicker. Google is not necessarily your friend. It can tell you a stay is a surcis - which refers to a court stay of judgement, or that a sheet is 'un drap' (a bedsheet) instead of 'une écoute'.   Lists of translated sailing terms are probably the best source, but pronouncing things properly will still call for help from your sailing friend.  

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, Zonker said:

Le Lapin. Try it around your french sailor friends.

DON'T!!  Rabbits are horrendously bad omens for French sailors.  Worse than dead albatrosses & Mother Carey's Chickens together. Even the word is NEVER said aloud, and it is bad luck even to bring up the idea of them by talking about long-eared animals. Bananas are not found on board French boats either. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, PaulK said:

   Lists of translated sailing terms are probably the best source, but pronouncing things properly will still call for help from your sailing friend.  

Canadian French, for example, is very different from Parsian French.

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Quickstep192 said:

I’m eager to learn French and my sailing buddy speaks French, so I’m planning to take classes and then speak only French while sailing to re-inforce what I learn. 
 

But, although my friend speaks French, he doesn’t know sailing terms in French. 
 

Is there anyone who knows the French words for sailing terms like Port, starboard, tack trim, jibe, reef, luff, leach, halyard, sheet etc. might as well throw “aground” in there since it will be needed sooner than later.

 

We appreciate any help. 

The problem with French crew is that they like food 

double your provisioning budget 

Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, TBW said:

Canadian French, for example, is very different from Parsian French.

eh?

Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, mckenzie.keith said:

Spelling may be wrong and I don't know how to type all the special letters.  I learned by talking/listening. These people were from Brittany.

voilier = sailboat

bateau = boat
voile = sail
grand-voile = mainsail
foc = jib (pronounced almost like "fuck" in english)
leve  Hisse la grande-voile (raise the main)
descend Affale la grand-voile (lower the main)
lache choque l'écoute = let go or release the sheet
attachez frapper = cleat or tie it off
mat = mast

bome = boom

ponton = dock
le vent = the wind
Il y a beaucoup de vent = it's windy

Il n'y a pas beaucoup de vent = it's not very windy
Ca souffle = it's blowing
Ca monte = the wind is increasing (literally it means "it is going up.. if context is lacking you can say "Ca monte, le vent" to make it clear.
Ca descend = the wind is decreasing (literally it means "it is going down")

spi = spinnaker
putain = fuck (literally whore but used like "fuck" in english. It is very vulgar. Don't say it if you wouldn't say "fuck" in english.)
ca me fait chier = this pisses me off (also pretty vulgar.. more or less like saying "this is bullshit").
Calme plan blanc = calm and flat or dead flat calm
Bordel = often used to describe a mess, or could just mean fuck (literally whorehouse). Vulgar.

epave = wreck or really shitty looking boat.
fait gaffe = watch out ( can be shouted when danger is imminent "fait gaffe la bome")
attention = watch out (often used to point out hazards ahead of time)

"I saw the voilier in the slip next to you."
"Voilier, you mean l'epave?"
"Hahah what a bordel!"
"You can laugh but I see it every day. Ca me fait chier."



 

A good start, but I allowed myself to make a few corrections. See above in bold.

Like in English, words can have double (or triple) meaning. So be careful. And what makes it worse, is that the most common meaning, in "everyday language" has absolutely no link to the "sailing language". A good example in English is "a sheet". In common language, a large piece of cloth on your bed, or a full size piece of paper. In sailing language, a line used to trim in and out a sail. The translation of the sailing language word is "une écoute", but in the common language, "écouter" means to listen. So the name "écoute" is the act of listening...

 

A tricky word in French sailing is "dérive". The common sense, which is also used in sailing environment, is "drift", in the sense of going sideways.

BUT, in sailing context, it also means... the daggerboard!!! The device used to AVOID drift!!! Don't ask me why...

Another one, just for the heck of it. A delivery sail (bring a sailboat from point A to point B ) is called in French; un convoyage. But it is also related to moving stuff from one place to another, with a .... conveyor belt. 

So I have seen automatic translations, replacing what should have been dagger board,with drift, and delivery trip with conveyor belt... It always cracks me up...

 

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, Laurent said:

A good start, but I allowed myself to make a few corrections. See above in bold.

Thanks. Looks like some of the things I said were tolerated by the people I was working with, but not strictly correct. And some I must have misheard (l guess I mis-heard "calme blanc").

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, AnotherSailor said:

clusterfuck = merde!

In my French experience merde was uttered a lot, not necessarily because of clusterfucks-rather in recognition of the clusterfuck that was about to occur.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was commissioning the boat, Pogo's user manual and documentation was all in French. They kindly corrected the mistake and gave me an English version. 

But all the pictures in it were all still labelled in French :) . Here are some random ones 

Pogo1.thumb.png.87e42b584e132b0be58368fca64ed742.png

  

pogo2.png.e21a38a97b870887a49a73092df2cfdf.png

pogo3.thumb.png.2932f38b0a67a949237a41a8bfa79f03.png

pogo4.thumb.png.4e9af2847e84c04d9b292b91a2dbeb03.png

pogo5.thumb.png.29b5f7956e86e4becd32848326042c81.png

pogo6.thumb.png.cbaa01dd398eb2d7eb927392e1b55a78.png

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Navig8tor said:

In my French experience merde was uttered a lot, not necessarily because of clusterfucks-rather in recognition of the clusterfuck that was about to occur.

When you see the clusterfuck coming and you know there is nothing you can do, it is more like:

Merde... Merde, MERDE! MerdeMerdeMerdeMERDEMEEEEEEERRRDE!!!

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

More sériously; if you REALLY want to lear sailing with French terms, I am sure that there are a bunch of glossaries on line, but "Le Cours des Glénans" is ZE bible which has been used by generations of French wannabe sailors, to learn not only the vocabulary, but also why and how sailboats work.

https://www.amazon.fr/Cours-Glénans-8ème-édition/dp/2021288269/ref=sr_1_1?crid=320G3T7W94W29&keywords=le+cours+des+glénans&qid=1642282831&s=books&sprefix=Le+cours+des+glénans%2Cstripbooks%2C185&sr=1-1

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/14/2022 at 1:57 PM, Quickstep192 said:

I’m eager to learn French and my sailing buddy speaks French, so I’m planning to take classes and then speak only French while sailing to re-inforce what I learn. 
 

But, although my friend speaks French, he doesn’t know sailing terms in French. 
 

Is there anyone who knows the French words for sailing terms like Port, starboard, tack trim, jibe, reef, luff, leach, halyard, sheet etc. might as well throw “aground” in there since it will be needed sooner than later.

 

We appreciate any help. 

 Port = babord

Starboard= tribord

tack = virer (de bord)

to  trim =  border

jibe empanner

reef = ris

luff =  bord d'attaque

leach = chute

 halyard = drisse (de spi, foc, grand-voile...),

sheet = ecoute (de GV, foc, etc.)

aground = a sec or echoue 

Hope this helps.

jm

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/15/2022 at 6:54 AM, P_Wop said:

There are plenty of resources in the internet, so Google is your friend.

My own advice (which worked very well, thank you) is to find a pretty and capable bilingual French sailor lass (or lad, if that's your preference) and learn the words across a pillow in the V-berth.  

Merde!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am such french (old) sailor and (retired) naval architect. Having the reverse problem (to know the english terms), I use :

Sailing La voile - Vocabulaire anglais thèmatique - BabelCoach

Buiding small boats : Petit lexique anglais-francais pour la construction de canots (lesbonscomptes.com)

Another one DICO-ENG_Marins.pdf

By hoping this can be helpful

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the most useful French sailing verbs is pronounced "grétéper" meaning to apply some duct tape / duck tape / grey tape. Nice how they make a verb out of it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

While hoisting the main for a race a car had come out of the track. The look on Rémi's face as he wondered why the crew was suddenly all shouting at him about an automobile and refusing to haul on the main.!?!?!?!? WTF?????? I cant remember the french word for that piece. It was very funny though.

We spoke several different languages on that boat, German, French, Hindi, English, sometime Dutch or Spanish, & the English guys said I wasnt really a true Native English Speaker because I'm American. But everything was done in English.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Orion Jim said:


Once you have a working knowledge of the general sailing terms you will find adding this to your lexicon will give you credibility within the yachting community.

“Je vous demande pardon, Monsieur, mais allez vous faire foutre.”
 

 

that's the polite version, the one that is a bit more stingy is "allez vous faire enculer" ( a polite translation would be something like "go get yourself sodomised"

and as Baldur remarks, if you get several languages mixed on board it can tend to get interesting ... got my first sailing lessons in french, next sailing schools was dutch, then naval school mostly english, and now sailing with neighbours in marina of which some french, most flemish and one english, there is no shame in talking about "that rope" instead of "that halyard", as long as it's clear which one

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Baldur said:

While hoisting the main for a race a car had come out of the track. The look on Rémi's face as he wondered why the crew was suddenly all shouting at him about an automobile and refusing to haul on the main.!?!?!?!? WTF?????? I cant remember the french word for that piece. It was very funny though.

We spoke several different languages on that boat, German, French, Hindi, English, sometime Dutch or Spanish, & the English guys said I wasnt really a true Native English Speaker because I'm American. But everything was done in English.

un charriot était sorti du rail...

Link to post
Share on other sites

When you want something adjusted gradually and you are guiding someone to do it for you, in French it is common to say:

Un peu plus...

Un peu plus...

Pas plus.

 

Which litterally means:

A bit more...

A bit more...

Not more.

 

Sailing with an English speaking friend, I was using the English translation as above to trim in a sail... except that instead of understanding:

"Not more",

he heard:

"A LOT more"

 

He is still teasing me to this day for my very peculiar use of the English language...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent idea, go for it !

I sailed in France with a French crew for 5 seasons. Been with a French lady now for 9 years and spend about half of the year in France. I can get by and am happy to help but most definitely not fluent. The Glenan sailing school in Brittany is excellent and their resource is a good one. 

 

To give you an idea of my level, as noted above 

foc = jib (pronounced almost like "fuck" in english)

For trim and ease we used to say

 

Foc On

Foc Off

 


Jib often called "solent" and main = grand voile abbreviated to GV. Halyard = drisse

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/15/2022 at 4:01 PM, PaulK said:

eh?

Certainly the pronunciation/accent. Also terminology varies.

When I was trying to learn I watched "Jean de Florette" film of very famous book. My French friends warned me not to copy the accents unless I wanted to sound like a country bumpkin. Think of learning American English in Kansas and then turning up in New York or San Francisco !

Link to post
Share on other sites

We were drifting in zero breeze in the Cherbourg race, just north of Alderney. Frenchie came up from down below, stuck his head out of the hatch, said  something to the effect "Plat comme les seins d'une nonne " and went back to his bunk.

I believe it means "Absolutely No Wind" ...or literally "Flat like the River Seine with nothing"

Whenever Ive been on a French boat....and the wind craps out to nothing...I've used the phrase and it usually draws nodding agreement, so I feel very professional and French. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, Mambo Kings said:

We were drifting in zero breeze in the Cherbourg race, just north of Alderney. Frenchie came up from down below, stuck his head out of the hatch, said  something to the effect "Plat comme les seins d'une nonne " and went back to his bunk.

I believe it means "Absolutely No Wind" ...or literally "Flat like the River Seine with nothing"

Whenever Ive been on a French boat....and the wind craps out to nothing...I've used the phrase and it usually draws nodding agreement, so I feel very professional and French. 

or possibly flat as a nuns tits.......

Seins de nonnes

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JohnMB said:

or possibly flat as a nuns tits.......

 

Shhhhh.  

Quick step is eager to learn

On 1/14/2022 at 1:57 PM, Quickstep192 said:

I’m eager to learn French.......I’m planning to take classes and then speak only French while sailing to re-inforce what I learn. 

 

Why do Quebec license plates say "Je me souviens"? - Frenchly

Another helpful phrase is people from Quebec drive around with plates that say "I am a souvenir"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, Mambo Kings said:

Shhhhh.  

Quick step is eager to learn

 

Why do Quebec license plates say "Je me souviens"? - Frenchly

Another helpful phrase is people from Quebec drive around with plates that say "I am a souvenir"

 

Non, pas du tout!

 

"Plat comme les seins d'une nonne" literally means "as flat as a nun's tits", meaning flat seas...

 

And "je me souviens" does not mean I am a souvenir, but "I remember"

 

But you are pulling my leg, right? RIGHT?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Lot of it has been covered I think.

The "racing slang" can be funny and definitely not politically correct, in the 90s we used the the feminine of the n word (Négresse) to call an incoming puff (because the water becomes black when a big puff is about and puffs (risées) are feminine), I used to imagine an angry black woman about to board the boat! The N word is probably not as offensive in French.

We use more English words now, "la fameuse" is now sometimes a "gybe drop".

12 hours ago, Jambalaya said:

When I was trying to learn I watched "Jean de Florette" film of very famous book. My French friends warned me not to copy the accents unless I wanted to sound like a country bumpkin. Think of learning American English in Kansas and then turning up in New York or San Francisco !

I initially tried to learn English by watching "Neighbours", my British flatmates laughed at the ensuing mixed accent and kept asking me the time at 6 o'clock. :rolleyes:

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Laurent said:

Non, pas du tout!

 

"Plat comme les seins d'une nonne" literally means "as flat as a nun's tits", meaning flat seas...

 

And "je me souviens" does not mean I am a souvenir, but "I remember"

 

But you are pulling my leg, right? RIGHT?

 

Sigh......Laurent and John, I know what both meant (I spent the better part of 8 summers living with my parents in France) , but didn't you want to see Quickly tell his nice new French girlfriend on a nice sunny calm afternoon that that it is a perfect day to go out in the harbor with a couple of glasses and a bottle of Cotes de Rhone because the sea is as flat as a Nun's tits ?  

Oui, je te fais marcher, but perhaps the new ownership has sadly affected the humor in this place.

Anyway, it wasn't Frenchie, and it wasn't anywhere near Alderney. It was Connor and it was in Perth and it was said with a strong Australian accent..

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Laurent said:

 

And "je me souviens" does not mean I am a souvenir, but "I remember"

 

My French tutor when I was a young lad was Dr. Black.  Poor chap, he had to put up with me for 4 years. As long as I could make myself understood at the baker in the morning and the local girls giggled at my accent at the cinema, I figured I had enough to get by.  He used to tell me that he would know that I had finally mastered the language when I could dream in French.

So he was very excited when at one of our early afternoon sessions I proudly announced that I had an entire dream the previous night in French.

"That's Great . What was it about? "  "C'est magnifique , Que s'est-il passé?".

" I have no idea. They were speaking in French"

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Mambo Kings said:

Sigh......Laurent and John, I know what both meant (I spent the better part of 8 summers living with my parents in France) , but didn't you want to see Quickly tell his nice new French girlfriend on a nice sunny calm afternoon that that it is a perfect day to go out in the harbor with a couple of glasses and a bottle of Cotes de Rhone because the sea is as flat as a Nun's tits ?  

 

You want me to pass up an opportunity to post a photo of tits just to make your joke work :)? Where do you think you are......

Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, JohnMB said:

You want me to pass up an opportunity to post a photo of tits just to make your joke work :)? Where do you think you are......

Fair point.

 

But are these the same tits that you would have relished nibbling 12 years ago when you first joined SA? Is it sad for me to admit that they do look rather delicious?:(

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...