I feel obliged to acquaint romantics with just how Syl and I (Robin) became a couple.
In 2011, I found myself alone, and it occurred to me it would be rather nice to have a compatible lady on board. I placed an advert on a website called “Find a Crew”. I advertised for a first mate, preferably a female to share a proposed cruise to the very end of the GBR. They must be experienced around boats and preferably a proficient
scuba diver. I was excited to find that among those interested was a genuine French commercial sailor. She had her own website, and I could see that she was both highly qualified and experienced with boats and diving. She had done eight Ocean crossings with both sailing yachts and powerboats. Was a master diver with over two thousand dives in most areas of the world? The fact that she was also a small attractive blonde eight years younger was of no consequence ( I’m lying). Sylvie was living on a boat in a Central Queensland coastal town waiting to take it back to the Solomon Islands. But, due to circumstances, it would be a long time before it departed. Her visa had two months left, and she liked the idea of diving the GBR. She spoke broken English but made herself understood directly, which I found refreshing.
But first, she wanted more current pictures of my boat both inside and out… the fisherman’s joke was being played back to me…in reverse!
When I broached the subject of romance and sex, she just said it was all part of nature, that while she thought it very good for one’s physical and mental health, she personally hadn’t been involved intimately with another man for years and could happily live without it. She explained laughing that she was very fussy: the man had to be meticulously clean, look good, smell good, be clever, funny, and absolutely unattached. What a tall order! I inquired how she managed to maintain a mere working friendship when she was often cooped up with a skipper for long periods. “Oh, if they didn’t like my way, I just got off the boat. I would always find another vessel,” she said in her usual resolute manner…I had no doubt she was not the sort of personality one would want to clash with. I digested her information. I needed to weasel my way through that tough exterior —a challenge my manhood needed to overcome. The next few nights on Skype I wore my clown’s hat and called on my largely forgotten wit. I started to make some real progress. Although I had no doubt that this was a very capable independent lady, my boat and the prospect of lots of good diving held more attraction than me.
I suggested she move onto the boat and we sleep separately for a week whilst we cruised from Townsville to Cairns and see how we got on before we embarked on a long cruise together. She agreed, and in June 2011, M.V. Flash Dancer was hit with a French whirlwind. Except for the engines, she pulled the boat apart cleaning and reorganizing every square inch. There was no point in arguing… she was a positive, no-nonsense female with boundless energy. Her bossy nature would have normally driven me crazy, but there was a certain reassurance of having someone on board who knew exactly how they wanted things to be and had no qualms about doing the work. We had lots of fun on the trip to Cairns: photographing the old hospital ruins on Fantome Island, snorkelling the fringes of Pelorus Island, and scuba diving with the sharks at Pith Reef.
We became the sweetest of lovers as we skinny-dipped under the glorious sunset falling over our anchorage next to the Beaver Reef sand cay.
Yep, she was right —we felt much better physically and mentally.
Despite our fun, she didn’t like me calling her my French mistress but was happy being my French mattress. We may have had trouble understanding each other, but we did share the same wacky sense of humour.
After our four-month cruise, her visa extension expired, and over the next four months, she continued her work overseas delivering sailing boats worldwide. I slipped the boat, played with the grandchildren, and caught up with friends, but it was another cruising adventure with my French first mate that I now longed for.
Years later, Sylvie has become an Australian citizen and is part of the Aussie landscape. We love sharing our lives together and despite having some of the same annoying habits—like both thinking we know best—life is pretty dam good.
After several years cruising we moved into an apartment near the marina where we could hear the waves crashing and the birds chirping…. and Syl could keep her other love (Flash Dancer) meticulously clean.
Now it’s 2023. The apartment has been gone for a while, but Syl and I remain close friends and still share some special times together.
p.s.There is still more information and stories to be posted here; the NE of Australia is such a huge area.
Good luck Sylvie. xo