Traffic, Info and Conch … International Incidents?

Sometimes cultural differences between cruisers crack me up!  Traffic, info and conch were prime examples.  We were headed to the Vivorillos Cayes (corner of Honduras where cruisers stop to break up the passage from the Bay Islands to the Columbian Islands or Panama with three other boats, two from Texas (anyone who knows cruisers knows that Texan cruisers are a culture unto themselves!  :)) and one from Norway.  Here’s a snippet from my Winterlude Update from the Vivorillos discussing international relations:

Hawgs & Dawgs

Hawgs & Dawgs in the Vivorillos Cayes

Vivorillos, Honduras, en route to Panama, we spent 5 days, exploring the gorgeous water colors, spearfishing to the point that NO ONE wanted any more fish, all our freezers were full of grouper, lobster, conch, hogfish, snapper, you name it.  The best location for spearfishing in the banks was a place nicknamed by cruisers as “Hawgs & Dawgs” — that’s because the largest & easiest to shoot fish were giant hogfish & dog snappers. “Hawgs & Dawgs” also has the biggest fields of staghorn & elkhorn coral that I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, including Bonaire!  I was running out of ways to fix fish for every meal! And luckily none of us believe in taking more than we can eat and/or freeze.

We especially enjoyed our Conch 101 festival … none of us had cooked conch before when sv Bruadair acquired 20 cleaned conch from local fishermen.  Splitting them up between the boats, I made conch salad, Lila made cracked conch & David made conch fritters.  We invited the crew on SailAbout to join us and we all thoroughly enjoyed the conch & toasted with martinis.

We only had one international incident, did you know that in Norway “conch” means bankruptcy!!!  Our Norwegian friends on SailAbout were a bit concerned being invited to a CONCH festival, and we had a good chuckle while enjoying the festival anyway.  Rumor has it could have been helped along with martinis & some rum drinks for those not willing (or smarter) to drink martinis! 🙂

Speaking of international incidents … while anchored back in Guanaja, the easternmost of the Bay Islands of Honduras, of 14 boats anchored, there were 11 different nationalities! Norwegian, Netherlands (Holland), Swiss, South African, French Canadian, USA, Austrian, Swedish, Honduran, Guatemalan and German. Everyone speaks excellent English, but even so sometimes there are misunderstandings.

International Gathering in Guanaja, Bay Islands

International Gathering in Guanaja, Bay Islands

Recently at a gathering on another boat to watch the lunar eclipse, the topic was the Northwest Caribbean Net – the AM radio net that lasts for about an hour every morning sharing information & facilitating communications between cruisers from Isla Mujeres, Mexico all the way to Panama. Turns out there was considerable international confusion with terminology on the net … TRAFFIC is what you ask for when you want to talk to another boat after the net …but our international friends kept looking outside & shrugging at our American idiosyncrasies … from an international perspective TRAFFIC is lots of boats zooming around your boat! 🙂

And “INFO” is what you say when you have information to add to a topic of discussion during the net … the international boats originally thought that “INFO” was the name of a boat & were absolutely flabbergasted that one boat could know so much stuff about so many places!!! 🙂 Maybe you had to be there…, but it sure was funny!

OK, so maybe you did have to be there, but INFO was sure a popular boat anchored in El Bight, Guanaja!   🙂  We always enjoy getting to know other boats from all over the world — what fun, despite an occasional verbal mis-interpretation!  🙂  Reminds me of growing up in the Midwest and then attending a year of grad school in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.  Silly folks, they spoke of dungarees and soda, when any self-respecting Midwesterner knows it’s jeans and coke!

Do you have any funny international language misunderstandings while cruising?  Leave a comment and let us know!  Cheers!  J



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