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Can You Help Locate This French Sailor From the ’70s?

We came across an interesting situation yesterday, in which a woman is trying to locate her mother’s sailing partner from the ’70s. She reached out to social media, and we’re reaching out to you, our readers. We know the ’70s were a pretty wild decade for many, and of course there is the possibility that some of those many don’t really remember those years, but perhaps something here rings a bell and someone can add some light to the mystery at hand.

The sailor in question is Joël Bernard, a French sailor who was in San Francisco at some time in the ’70s. It’s estimated that he would now be aged somewhere between 67 and 74.

The story is that together, the mother and Bernard sailed through Hawaii and French Polynesia. He is described as “about 5’4″-5’6″, skinny, with blue eyes.” Of course, this being 40 or so years ago, his physical appearance may have changed somewhat.

The daughter writes, “My mom thinks maybe he isn’t alive anymore, but I was thinking it would be cool if we could find him and they could reminisce [about] their sailing adventures. She told me she never believed in God until they were out on the open ocean with 40-foot waves and they had to tie down. I’d love to hear stories about her from his perspective too.”

looking for French sailor
This photo is not of Joël Bernard. But that is Tahiti in the background.
© 2023 Gail Drake

The request has already generated numerous comments, some merely offering support, and some putting forth a crumb or two. So far, it seems, none have resulted in the prize. Though one person did ask about the boat, which in turn produced another clue. It is now believed the boat was “the yacht Sundowner, built by a designer named Dreamer in Costa Rica.

“I know this is vague, but it would be really neat to reconnect. My mom is not in good health and it would be bittersweet to find her long-lost sailor boyfriend ??”

We agree, it is vague, and even more so because we’ve omitted the woman’s name. But we’ve done so out of respect for her privacy (and yes, we realize there is no privacy on social media; we’re merely trying to stem the flow).

If you have any information or recollections that you think may be relevant, please let us know in the comments below, or drop us an email at [email protected], and we’ll put you in touch.


  1. milly Biller 1 year ago

    I knew Joel very well in the ’70s ! He and I were part of a crew that got a boat named Atlantis ready for a cruise to the South Pacific Milk run. When the boat got to Honolulu, I got the call to crew for the return trip to the states. It was November and we got our butts kicked. When we were over halfway home, the owner pulled the plug and we sailed back to Ala Wai Harbor with the owner’s promise to fly us home. Joel greeted us at the guest dock , and paid me to paint his girlfriend’s car- a TR3- which I later got use of. He got me lots of work in Ala Wai, and I got home with more money than I left with. I would LOVE to know where/how/ if Joel is ! What a great coincidence !!!!

  2. Jan Passion 1 year ago

    There is a possibility or two on Facebook… Guessing that has already been tried?

  3. Ken ,Bombadill,Brinkley 1 year ago

    How romantic

  4. michael (Mickey) podorson 1 year ago

    dear searcher : i can relate — i and my lady, marny, dove and sailed the st. thomas in in the early seventies — what an education…met some real characters. i now live in santa cruz, ca & plan to ship my trimaran down there (Belize) to teach the young garifuna modern boatbuilding and help reconnect them with their maritime heritage. i just have to go back to the caribbean.

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The first weekend of the month is the busiest for midwinters on San Francisco Bay, but some clubs are canceling tomorrow's races.