I've been working on my French and I've come across a bunch of French sailing phrases that I love and thought I would share. Native French speakers (come on Letitgo, chime in!), please feel free to correct me.
Les moutons: Literally "the sheep" and it is the phrase used for white caps or "white horses". I love this because of the imagery of fluffy sheep on top of waves.
Les patates: Meaning "the potatoes" this is the phrase for coral heads or "bommies". Also, if you want to joke about a secret signal, such as saying "The eagle has landed" in the US, you can say "Les potates sont cuites" in French (at least in Quebec) which literally means "The potatoes are cooked".
A fleur de l'eau: Reefs that touch the surface usually have a completely flat top that is just underwater, or just touching the water, depending on the tide. The literal translation of the French phrase for these is 'flower of the water' but it means skimming the top of the water.
Petol: No wind (accent aigue on the 'e' so it is pay-tohl). One French dude we met said this had to do with Aeolus, the god of the wind, and the word 'pet' which is fart in French making the phrase "the wind god's fart". His girlfriend said that wasn't where the word came from at all but I pass on the rumor because it is a good one.