We sailed out of Korolevu on the coral coast for Vatulele Island with plenty of sunshine and of course, a healthy wind.
We were part of the National Substance Abuse Advisory Council entourage that was invited to the island by the management of the Vatulele District School to attend the Drug Free celebrations there.
As we made our way out of the rocky ledges that they call reef, I noticed the waves were getting higher. At first it was gentle but as we moved further out to sea, the waves became choppy.
I owed this to the strong sea breeze blowing in a south easterly direction, but as we continued, the ferocity and frequency of the waves increased, at times broad siding our boat, almost engulfing it, sending sprays that wet us who were sitting at the rear of the boat.
This was one of the roughest boat rides I had ever come across, and even though it was just a 30 kilometre ride, I had never been tossed and turned like this before.
As we safely reached the shore, thanks to the skill of our captain who had to navigate the boat through the teeth of the oncoming wind, I quickly relayed my boating experience to Vereimi.
Vereimi and I grew up together in Edenville Toorak and it's been more than 10 years since we last met. There were handshakes after handshakes and laughter as we recalled our days back in the hood, but not before I told him what a harrowing experience I had in crossing the ocean to get to his island.
Only then did he fall silent. Then he gave a long hard look at me before saying that his older brother Motui Sinalevu is still lost at sea.
Even though I was aware of the news, through his younger cousin Vetaia, there was added weight because I had just had a rough crossing in the very same ocean that Motui got lost in.
I never got the chance to ask Vereimi more as he whisked me away to see his house which of course he had named 'Edenville' as a tribute to the place we were brought up in.
I later met another of Vereimi's cousins Koli who was also brought up in Edenville and I learnt that he has become a church deacon, a far cry from the boy I once knew.
It was Koli who I finally asked about Motui's untimely demise and he was one of the last people who had talked to Motui before he got lost at sea.
Koli says he was to have been part of the trip too but it was because another cousin of his, that he was not able to go on that fateful trip.
It was December 31 in 2003 and the people of Vatulele were heralding in the new year when Koli and Motui planned to travel to Viti Levu to finish off their New Year's celebrations there.
"We were grogging celebrating New Year's at a teacher's residence in the school when he (Motui) told me to leave with him but I couldn't because whenever I tried to leave, one of my other cousins kept on asking me to finish the grog."
"I managed to pull away from and ran all the way through the village to the beach as they were just pulling out. He (Motui) only called out to me that I was to stay and wait for him. That was the last time we ever spoke," Koli says.
The day Motui disappeared was Thursday, the first day of 2004.
On that very day, a tropical depression had formed between Rotuma and Fiji and was tracking an easterly direction. A strong wind warning was issued to all mariners. Motui along with the 43 year-old Apenisa Dreve and 20 year-old Noa Sasanicagi left Vatulele on the same day.
With Dreve as captain, the three boarded a 21-foot fibreglass boat. They then set out North towards Viti Levu, their destination was Korolevu, some 30 kilometres away.
"They had actually reached Korolevu and did their shopping, and that was where they picked up Vola Tuberi, a Vanuavatu man who was on his way to Vatulele to visit his wife. It was on their way back when their boat capsized," Koli says.
According to news reports, Dreve the captain, was the only one who survived while the other three were never seen again.
Dreve later told investigators that their boat capsized some 12 kilometres from Korolevu on that Thursday afternoon.
They made floatation devices from three kerosene and water gallons by tying it with a belt, and Dreve says that by Friday, the other three had grown weak.
So he decided to swim to get help. Dreve swam for two days and was only found on Sunday at Votua Reef near Vatulele.
A naval boat and several boats from Vatulele and the island's resort were dispatched to look for the four.
Their capsized boat was found on Sunday but the bodies of the three were never found. Motui left behind his daughter Talata Sinalevu who was only two months-old when her father disappeared.
His wife, Asenaca who also worked at the Vatulele Resort, had stayed on with her daughter who is attending the same school that her father once did.
The only reminder of his disappearance was a stone memorial that stands in Taunovo Village.
This is not the first disappearance at sea in Vatulele. There have been other incidents too.
According to Ilikena Bulewa of Taunovo Village, he has witnessed five cases, at least, of people who disappeared at sea.
One such case was the disappearance of three people from Vatulele in 2006. The three were 56 year-old Peni Bera and 38 year-old Sunia Kavasi of Taunovo Village and 16 year-old Poniani Cagilevu of Ekubu Village. Incidentally the three were survived by Noa Sasanicagi, the younger Sasanicagi's namesake.
Such is the nature of the seas between Vatulele and Viti Levu, one of the rough patches of sea in Fiji.