Friday, March 10, 2017

3-6-17 Random Thoughts - From a French Island

Sunrise in Marin

While I have done pretty good at trimming Tom's hair, I haven't yet learned to do it without saying the occasional "oops" and "oh well, it will grow back." I must work on that.

You would think after all this time and all these meals cooked aboard, I would have learned not to sauté or cook liquid things in my swimsuit.  Ouch.  Actually, cooking overall probably should not be carried out in one's swim costume (as the Brits say).

No mater the size of dinghy or horsepower, some (most) dinghy rides are wet rides.  

It is shocking and freaking annoying how few cruisers still don't use DSC on the VHF!  Come on people!  It is 2017!

European cruisers dress different from North American cruisers.  
Meet Toto.  Yep!  Note also I am wearing my Kansas City Sailing hat

People (Americans) bag on the French that they are stuck up and don't want to talk English.  Not true. They are scared / intimidated to do so.  Guess what.....they think the same of Americans... that we don't WANT to try vs being scared.

If you ask a French person if they speak English, they usually say "a liettle" and make an inch sign with their thumb and forefinger.  However, if you sit and visit with them, generally they speak way better English than you speak French.  If during the visiting time there is beer, wine or rum involved, their attempts at English get more frequent, more confident and good.  And of course everyone is better looking at closing time.  HA!

See above about French speaking English.  Our Swedish cruising friend does not try to speak French at all.  When they speak French to her, she immediately speaks Swedish to them.  They are usually startled and then say to her "Ummmm, no Swedish.  You speak Engalish?"  She nods and the the French person says "Then we wills speak the Engalish - ok whiff you?"   Moral?  If you are traveling to French speaking land and are worried about speaking French, simply learn some Swedish.  

French do like to have the pronunciation correct to converse.  Example - Me = "Je voudrais orange consommation, s'il vous plait."  French person ="???"  Me= "Orange drink" with drink motion.  French person = "??"  ME = simply now pointing to an orange drink in the cooler behind the bar.  French person = "Oh!  Ohr-rah-zh drink."   Me = "Yeah, orange drink."   Ugh, my French stinks. 
Pocket cruiser?  Whose pocket?
We have observed that for typical American cruisers bigger is better.  More waterline, bigger dinghy, more gadgets, more horsepower, more, bigger,....  We have also observed that the French seem to have their own competition going, only slightly different.  Their contest seems to be who can have the smallest dinghy.  Bonus for putting the most people in it and extra bonus points for the smallest dinghy motor.  No lie.  We have watched a French cruising boat cram 6 or 7 people in a tiny dinghy.  TINY!  We have seen a couple of French dinghies that have to be display only dinghies.  Think of the tiny display tents in the Walmart sporting goods section - 1/4 mock up of the actual tents they sell.  Seems these French cruisers have decided to make use of the tiny 1/4 size display only dinghy.  Seriously.....I am not joking, these are itty, bitty dinghies.  Usually the motor is 2 to 3 horsepower and occasionally 5 but never over that.  

The British are a traveling people.  I mean they get off their island and see the world. 

We seem to be surrounded by Canadian boats.  It must still be cold up there.  The immediate group all seem to be French Canadian.

The cruiser next to us 1). Loves his dinghy or 2). Has a new dinghy that he likes to keep neat and clean and spends time on it as such or 3). Is in trouble with his partner on the boat and thus voluntarily / by force is spending an inordinate amount of time in his smallish dinghy.  The last two days he has been in the dinghy more than on the boat.  What do you think?  Yeah, we think the same.....he has been banished to the dinghy. 

The term partner is used quite a bit in the international cruising community.  Sometimes it means partner in life - sometimes married, sometimes not.  Other times it means boat partner.  We have noticed this in international travel as well.  
New to us method for chaining oil on charter cat saildrives - cheaper than hauling to change the oil

Sunday I tried to turn on my laptop but it wouldn't turn on.  That made me sad.  

Monday I took my laptop into Info Geek.  We were second in line.  Three more people came in.  Bad weekend for laptops.  

I had to leave my laptop behind.  That made me sad.  The tech said 'I needz to opens it up.  You leaves it?  Maybez Toosday or Wesnessday?"  Okay.

The Canadian cruiser next to us is definitely in trouble with his partner as his dinghy time has far exceeded his boat time.  

Seriously people.....DSC when using VHF!!!  Argh!

Why do some cruisers sound like they are always trapped in their cockpit locker when they talk on the VHF radio?  
Tom on the bow in St Anne - pre-hair cut

Did you know that France is electing a new President in less than 70 days?  No?  Understandable because of the rules, restrictions, limitations on campaign money and advertising!  So jealous.  Wish we had the same in USA!  

Turns out one probably shouldn't use toxic chemicals for cleaning while wearing your swim costume, either - see #2 above.  FYI - Easyoff burns.  What are the chances I will remember and NOT rub my eyes?  Yeah....I know....slim.

I got my laptop back today (3-9-17).  That makes me happy.  It also means more blogs to come.  That may or may not make you happy.  FYI - it was a battery issue.  YES, I did check the battery but not in a "doing weird glitch" sort of way.  $30E fee.

The chosen VHF hailing channel is 68.  We hail each other on this channel and the move to another channel to talk in order to keep 68 open.  If course NONE of that is necessary if you use DSC!  Channel 68 is simply the chosen channel and not a rule.  Others like locals and officials can use it as they see fit.  Anyway, tonight some "official" from Fort du France port control was requesting assistance on channel 68 from a cruise ship in locating a possible sailboat adrift.  They had two discussions.  Serious stuff.  Obvious stuff.  During the second conversation a cruiser chick (sounded American) comes on trying to play radio Nazi and tells them "move your conversation to another channel."  OMG!  They ignored her.  When they finished not one but two cruisers came on and set her straight / scolded her.  BTW - There is a HUGE difference between wanting cruisers to use DSC and being a radio Nazi.  HUGE!

Did you know that in general Americans and Europeans (and probably the rest of the world as well) count very differently when using their hands?  If I ask an American to count to five (to me) on their hands, they usually start with the forefinger, then middle, then ring finger, pinky and finally thumb and usually they have their palm facing me.  Try it Americans, I will wait......See.  If I ask a European to do the same, they usually start with the thumb, followed by forefinger, middle, ring and finally pinky, and the back of the hand is facing me.  Am I right my non-American friends?  So.....if you want two beers in Martinique, you don't hold up a peace sign, instead you hold up your thumb and forefinger with your palm facing you.  In fun discussions about this with our non-American cruising friends, I did ask them how they signal #1 at sporting events and they showed me the universal forefinger sign for "We're #1"  to which I suggested that this meant the American way of counting on your fingers was correct vs their method.  Besides, big foam fingers of thumbs waving at college football games would just be weird.  However I think "We're #1" and foam fingers are somehow lost in translation.  But it was fun to discuss and much laughter and joking ensued.

No, we don't have our new dinghy yet.  Yes, it has been several weeks.  More to come on this.


  1. Just got back from St Martin, Anguilla, St Barts. Chartered a Lagoon 44. (Like in your pic abv?) Top drawer French crew with excellent English. They did a lot to reawaken my HS and Janet's college French. What they said they liked was we simply tried rather than just speaking LOUDER. We talked as much about cooking as sailing...

  2. Fun comments! I love love love the photo of you and "Toto". Super cute! We have French Canadians next to us in the RV park (cyclists also), and I can attest to some of what you say. The husband speaks to us, but the wife pretty much only says "hellooooo". I thought she was snobby at first too, then I realized she probably isn't confident in her English. Same as when we are in Mexico trying to speak Spanish. Always intimidating!

    I didn't realize you were getting a new dinghy. Exciting!