When we first started to get serious about learning how to sail I thought it would be a wise idea to buy a beginners book on sailing. I’m mostly a pretty quick learner and I dove right into it.
After just a couple of pages I couldn’t continue anymore, because I was laughing so much. Why? I couldn’t understand a word of it! The book was in Dutch but it might as well have been Chinese. Every other word was something I had never heard of before! All those nautical terms sounded strange and were new to me. Reading about sailing as a complete novice meant not only learning about sailing but also learning a complete new language, it seemed. Learning that every part on a boat and every piece of rope has its own name, depending on where it is and what you use it for was kind of mind boggling. But also very entertaining because some sounded so funny!
I’ll give you one example. Bulletalie. That’s the Dutch word for boom preventer line. Try saying that 10 times in a row without laughing!
On my first sailing course our instructor had to be very patient with her students because we kept mixing up the nautical terms or forgot what they were. We even made running jokes where we used words for parts that only sounded similar but meant something completely different, like a line we insisted on calling clothing iron in Dutch, despite its real name. (I guess you had to be there to get the ‘joke’.)
We also did a lot of online research together. Blogs, articles, forum posts and youtube channels about sailing were mostly in English. So not only did we have to learn the Dutch nautical terms but also the English ones. We are still learning and probably will make mistakes every so often.
Yesterday Rene came home with a weird looking package. It was flat and looked like a sun bleached canvas briefcase. In it were two metal frames with rubber mats attached and short lines to keep it level.
It’s a device that you can use while at anchor to prevent the boat from rolling (too much). When you put these plates in the water on the sides of your boat, the boat will be more stable.
And its name? Brace yourselves: FLOPPER STOPPER!
Ha! Don’t you just love that? 🙂