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Skipper’s Tips

Speak Like a Sailor:  A Multilingual Guide to Nautical Talk

Although the world seems continually to be shrinking, language differences are still an issue when participating in a specialized sport such as sailing.
    
Sailors in the know come from all over the world to take advantage of the incredible conditions that exist throughout the waters of the British Virgin Islands.  Remember that the operative word is “British”—therefore, English is the official spoken language. 


 
To minimize problems, whether you are a power boater, sailing cruiser, once-a-year charter skipper or maniacal racing enthusiast, there are certain words and phrases that you absolutely need to know.  These involve procedures for requesting slip assignments, taking on water and fuel, obtaining assistance while on board at sea, as well as simple boat terms or ways to make requests for water sport toys, etc.


    
Of the many nationalities that visit the British Virgin Islands, the German, French and Spanish seem to make up the largest numbers.  Below we have listed a few words and catchphrases that may come in handy while you are out there enjoying yourself.  Remember, most languages do not translate literally.  We have made an effort to keep this information as simple and easy to understand as possible.

 

  

In addition to the translations that we have listed, don’t forget that most boats these days come with operating manuals that zare written in three to four languages. If you are chartering your vessel, be sure to ask your “customer service representative” if these manuals are on board.   

Be safe out there and "bon voyage."     

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