Crusing

Where are they all? Does Nationality Dictate The Places Where Circumnavigators Go?

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Firstly, here’s a little bit about me: I’m British, so a native English speaker, but I’ve lived half my adult life in France, so I speak French too.  This is not unusual, but because I have two languages, I’ve never worried about going to places where they speak either one or the other.  I’ve got no idea whether I’ll be allowed to stay here once this crazy Brexit business eventually takes effect, so maybe it’ll be time to slip the lines again for foreign parts. We’ll have to wait and see.  But somehow I’ve never felt quite as relaxed in places where I have no grasp of the language.  Off the beaten track in Turkey or Greece for example.  Sure, we had some great times there, but it’s not quite the same. So I often find myself in anchorages where there are Anglophones or French-speakers.  But I’ve come to notice that there tends to be only one or the other in one place.

There are thousands of people out there cruising, but in the main, I’ve found that there are places where folk speak mostly English, or places where it’s mostly French that you hear.  Does this mean there are places where only English speakers go and places where only the French go?  To a certain extent, I think this is the case.

As an example, I was chatting to a Frenchman recently who had completed an “Atlantic circuit”.  He had sailed from France down to the Casamance River, somewhere that most Anglophones have never heard of it, but the French all go there!  (It’s in Senegal, a former French colony in West Africa, if you were wondering).  From there he had crossed to the Caribbean, by which he meant Martinique.  He had had an amazing time in Le Marin and on the west coast of the island, up as far as St. Pierre.  From there to Les Saintes and the other wonderful islands of Guadeloupe, and on to Gustavia, in St.Barts, and then the French side of St. Martin, before heading back across to Europe in the springtime.

And I’ve met Brits who’ve done exactly the same.  They sail with the ARC rally across to St.Lucia, then have a great time in Antigua, St.Kitts and Nevis and the BVIs, before making for Bermuda and then home again.  Hell, I even have a French friend who sailed his catamaran straight from Bora Bora to Nouméa in New Caledonia.  It took weeks.  Didn’t he notice the Cook Islands, Tonga, Samoa or Fiji on his way past?  To be fair, cyclone season was approaching.  But he had clearly spent way too much time in French Polynesia.

Can this be true?  Look at all the places where lots of cruisers hang out. Take Prickly Bay in Grenada as an example.  A lot of Brits, a lot of Americans, South Africans, the odd Canadian, Scandinavian or Dutchman (but they all speak perfect English anyway).  But the French?  I have seen them there, but they’re pretty rare.  Or Le Marin in Martinique?  Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cruisers, almost all French.  Ever seen a Frenchman in Georgetown, Bahamas?  No, me neither.  

It can’t just be a language thing, can it?  If you’re ...

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