Jerry and I hope to transit the St. Lawrence within the decade ahead. When we do, he’ll be relying on my school-girl French to get us through Quebec. For my part, I’ll be relying on Kathy Parson’s French for Cruisers (along with another great little gem called Yachtsman’s Ten Language Dictionary, by Barbara Webb and Michael Manton) for the many words I’ve forgotten and for the hundreds more I never learned.

How else will we shop for sandpaper, stove alcohol, and cotter pins? It seems like these words should have been covered at least by French 203. Perhaps they were taught the day I skipped class and went to the lake . . . Kathy started out by creating Spanish for Cruisers in 2000. That book was such a hit with sailors, the French version was an obvious encore. The French book is divided into handy sections such as customs and immigration, sails and upholstery, emergencies, navigation, weather, engines, boatyards, talking to mechanics, and so on, along with the standard phrases available for non-boating tourists (shopping, directions, time of day. . . ). In many cases, illustrations are also included for pointing out to locals when words fail (as they often do). It also includes an index/dictionary to help get you back to the section you seek when you see an unknown ingredient on a label, an unusual shop sign, or an unfamiliar item on a menu. To save you some thumbing through the book, well-used phrases are printed, conveniently, on the inside covers. Before you begin using the book, it is helpful to acquaint yourself with Kathy’s handy chapters on pronunciation and grammar tips. This book is useful to any cruiser, whether he has taken basic French or not, who heads off to French tropical paradise locations as well as Quebec or the canals of France. From what I have seen of this book, I would buy Kathy’s Spanish for Cruisers in a heartbeat if I were heading for Spanish-speaking areas (even though I don’t have any school-girl Spanish to back that up). It may, come to think of it, come in handy in some parts of the U.S.A. when we do some sailing adventures with our trailerable boat.

French For Cruisers By  Kathy Parsons (Adventuras Publishing and Seaworthy Publications, 2004; 352 pages)