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Spanish for the Gringo Boater

Updated on March 4, 2013

Fishing Mexico

Sailing Mexico

At the end of this year I am pointing my boat south to the warm waters of Mexico and beyond just like so many other mariners before me. Have traveled extensively I know how much easier things are if you know the local language so I asked my wife, who is Mexican to teach me some words and phrases that I thought I might need checking into Mexico. What quickly became apparent was that she didn't know any of those words. Neither did her parents. Nor her sister who teaches Spanish to high school students. Why? because none of them know anything about boats (don't get me started).

So I took the next logical step and started looking for a Spanish phrasebook for cruisers. For those not in the know, 'cruiser' is the term given to a sailor or sailors who live aboard their boat and sail to new destinations. Here's what I found.

Travel Mexico

This Spanish phase book by Kathy Parsons seems to be the definitive word for all cruisers, boaters and fishermen traveling in Mexican waters. If you're going to be spending an extended amount of time south of the border then I recommend getting a copy.

There is also another book by the same author that deals more specifically with Spanish terms for boat repairs. Since many sailors, especially those in southern California waters, duck into Mexico to get some discount vessel repairs conducted, this book would also be of some real value. it goes without saying that any sailor having an extended stay in Mexico should also own a copy of this book.

Some Spanish Phrases for Boaters

If you're a casual visitor to Mexican waters and don't spend a lot of time there then here are some basic nautical and fishing terms just in case you need them. These phrases are courtesy of a very handy free booklet that San Diego's own Downwind Marine publishes.

Fishing Terms

Turtle......La aguama

Shrimp......El camaron

Lobster......La langosta

Whale......La balena

Shark......El tiburon

Marlin......El marlin

Sailfish......La pez vela

Dolphin......El dorodo

Yellowtail......El Jurel

Porpoise......La tonina

Grouper......La garropa

Rock Bass......La cabrilla

Skipjack......El bonito

Carp......El cangrejo

Rod......La cana

Reel......El carrete

Line......La piola (linea)

More Drag......Mas freno

Leader......El empate

Swivel......El destorcador

Hook......El anzuelo

Gaff......El gancho

Bait......La camada

Fishing Chair......La silla de pesca


Fish Following......La pezviene

Strike......Esta jalando

Birds Working......Pajaros trabajando


A Jump......El salto


Coming Up......El sube

Bad Hookup......Mal anzueliado

Too Bad......Que lastimal

Spanish Engine Terms

Spark Plug......La bujia

Belt......El cinturon

Hose......La manguera

Pump......La bomba

Starter......El arranquedor

Points......Los platos


Check back regularly as I will be updating this list of useful terms and phrases. Good boating!

Spanish for Dummies


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    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 4 years ago from The High Seas

      Well shes officially from Juarez, but she was actually born in Mission Hills California. A question I got wrong during the citizenship test but the guy said Married over a decade and doesn't know where wife was born,....sounds about right!

    • profile image

      Derdriu 4 years ago

      GetitScene, In particular, I had a fit of the giggles over "bad hookup", and I was puzzled by "working birds".

      What part of Mexico is your wife from?

      Respectfully, and with many thanks, Derdriu

    • Insightful Tiger profile image

      Insightful Tiger 5 years ago

      Sounds like a lovely time!

    • Karen Banes profile image

      Karen Banes 5 years ago from Canada

      This winter I'm actually in Europe (long story). Have a great time sailing the pacific coast though. I hear The Sea of Cortez is amazing. Jealous!

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 5 years ago from The High Seas

      Looking forward to getting my own boat down to the Sea of Cortez towards the end of this year, actually. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 5 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Great information. My brother has a Cal 36 in San Carlos. I've sailed with him there several times. The Sea of Cortez is a treasure for sailors and fishermen.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 5 years ago from The High Seas

      Ahoy Karen! Thanks for sailing by. I'm planning on heading down south permanently at the end of this year. Are you on the Pacificcoast by chance?

    • Karen Banes profile image

      Karen Banes 5 years ago from Canada

      Love it. I've done quite a lot of boating in Spain so learned 'nautical spanish' before I learned basic everyday conversation. Love the idea of living on a boat. hope you're enjoying Hubpages.


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