Little illustrated glossary for the girl who date a sailor and know nothing about sailing

It is so easy now, with Internet and social networks, to meet all kind of people, with all sorts of different interests and coming from anywhere. Sometimes, it give matches a little weird, but still functional.

So for you, the girl (or the boy) who has a date with a captain of a sailing boat, while she has never set a foot on a boat, here is a little illustrated glossary to help you. Ah yeah, and welcome in the club!

The dinghy

Nom en français: youyou ou annexe

This is the small secondary boat that we use to reach the ground once the sailboat anchored. Our dinghy has oars and a little sail and we have lot of fun with it! We prefer sailing with the dinghy, less work than with the big boat. Also, it is easier to understand how to sail with a dinghy like this, than with the big sailing boat (which is heavier and slower).

The Westsail 32 has 3 sails so let’s go with it:

The sails

The main sail

Nom en français: la grande voile

As its name in French indicates, it is the big sail of the boat. It is use to swing the boat, to maintain its balance and directing the boat.

The stay sail

Nom en français: La trinquette, mais je l’appelle la biquette

It is the sail closer to the mast. It gives the speed to the boat.

The jib

Nom en français: la foc

Obviously, it is the last sail. Like the other one before, it gives the speed to the boat.

The number of sails on a boat depends of his architecture and the position of the mast on the boat. So a sailboat can have two sails in the front. It is called a cutter (ou un cotre en français). A sailboat with only one sail in the front is a sloop (en français, on dit un sloop également). (just more new words for next time you play Scrabble!)

The bow vs the stern

En français: la proue et la poupe (ou tout simplement: l’avant et l’arrière du bateau)

It can be a little confusing as you enter, on a boat, from his back while you enter, usually, from the front of a house. And when you think about that, we drive a car from his front and not sitting at the back. So, maybe we can think that human used to think by the front of things? Hum.. hum.. Not on a boat! But Stephane has his famous quote to remember it : “ A boat is horny, we start by the back “… No comment… But when you heard it few times, you remember and don’t repeat the same mistake. So the “front” is the bow and the “back” called stern.

But if not, by sailing with the boat, the sense of the boat become quite obvious!… and because we rarely advanced backwards… or something like that!

Port vs Starboard

En français: Babord vs tribord

A friend once told me that I should get tattooed on my wrist the words port & starboard in order to remember it. Nice try, but it is not a quite good idea as port & starboard are not left and right!

When you are on the boat and you look at the front of it (the bow!), port will be at your left. So, starboard will be at your right.

THE Engine

En français: le moteur

Obviously, we all know what an engine is. But not everybody know that sailboats have one! When you are not familiar with the world of boat, that you’ve never been interested in it before, there are things that you never though of it… The first time Stephane told me, proudly, that he lived for many years in a Contessa 26, without an engine, my reaction was “Yeah, and so?”. I never told him, but before that, I never though a sailing boat has engine… why it would need it if he already has its sails? And it is a recurrent subject in this universe: “how is your toilet? How is your engine?” But for me, I have nothing really interesting to say about that. And nope, you can probably not replace the fuel with potato oil!

And now, good luck for your date! Finally, if there’s something that you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask questions. Because the beauty of this world of captains and sailors is that they are, mostly, nice people. But they all like to help and to share their knowledge!

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