A couple days into the trip Andre and Hazel asked if we were prudes and how we felt about seeing a bit of skin. Um what? Apparently, they really really enjoy to be nude. All the time. And if no one else is on board they won’t put clothes on ever. Ok. This was an interesting development. We were living with a bunch of nudists. Old nudists, nan and pop kinda old. So the thought of sharing a boat with them naked all the time was an uncomfortable one. Thankfully they must have been able to tell from my reaction, I wasn’t exactly open to the idea. So when we were around, Andre would wear a pair of shorts and Hazel always had a sarong wrapped around her (which I’m grateful for). A sarong and nothing else though. To put it politely, Hazel is a big girl. And for a big unsupported nudist girl like her, she lost the fight against gravity a long time ago. It would happen on a daily basis, that I would catch a glimpse of more than I wished for. You had to be very careful not to look too hard in her direction when she was asleep on the day bed because you really could see anything.
With that all said, they are really nice people. They have their annoying habits like everyone else but kind hearts and mean well. Andre is a very fit and active 70 year old French-Canadian that has lived in Australia for the last 40 odd years. He is one of those sorts that rarely stops and is very systematic with everything he does. Real friendly bloke but has an ego that fills the room. If you have a story he’s got a better one. Big extrovert. Hazel is the opposite, introvert, quiet and happy to listen, the ying to Andre’s yang. She has had a tough life and now been dealt an even rougher card being diagnosed with some rare disease that has rendered her very weak and almost incapable of walking. Hence why they now have crew on board to lend a hand with the sailing. All in all, they are a good match and their relationship is pretty cute.
We tried really hard in the beginning to impress the nudists. Way too hard in hindsight. But as they were our only ticket out of Australia, our whole trip was at their mercy. We would always offer a helping hand around the boat, be it repair, maintenance or just general house keeping. They were always very grateful and appreciative however it didn’t take long for it all to shift from impressed appreciation to pure expectation.
Soon it was “Boys don’t forget your jobs before you head out” said from one of them barely glancing up from their book as they lay on the day bed snacking on a packet of kettles chili flavoured chips or a block of chocolate. Food we were forbidden from eating despite the fact we paid for half of it. Or Andre’s favourite “Your mission should you choose to accept it…” and then some various obscure task, knowing dam well we had little choice in accepting it or not. Sometimes we would be greeted in the morning this way, next thing we would find ourselves patching a sail or on all fours scrapping the carpet with a brush so it could be vacuumed, still in the clothes we slept in and hungry from no breakfast.
We didn’t mind helping out and pulling our own weight but it fast began to feel like we weren’t just pulling our own. Almost like we were their servants. And we had paid money to be there. Hmm. We couldn’t rap our head around it. Was this what it meant to ‘crew’ on a boat? Pay for the privilege to work for someone? Or were we being taken advantage of? Should we have had to pay so much if we were expected to do so much? Or were we over reacting and just being lazy tight arses whining because we had to do a bit of work? With nothing to compare this with we really didn’t have a clue…