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No strangers to Fiji

Luke Rawalai
Thursday, November 08, 2012

THEY describe themselves as free spirits roaming the seas learning from the different experiences that each destination around the globe offers them.

The Fiji Times caught up with these two outspoken Americans on the island of Kia as they chatted to the islanders and laughing at jokes that were passed around.

Globetrotting friends, 37-year-old Jason Rose and 48- year-old Ricky Bailey are originally from Seattle, Washington in the United States of America.

Mr Rose works for a container shipping company which transports containers of supplies from the USA to the Alaskan region for four months from June to September when the boat passageway through the frozen Alaskan seas are clear for boats to travel through.

"I work four months a year and the rest of the time is spent at sea travelling around the globe on my yacht The Bodhran, enjoying the experience that every new destination offers me," he said.

Rickey Bailey is a carpenter by profession but works full-time on his boat, The Guava Jelly, traversing the globe returning to shore every now and then, when he runs short of cash to ply his trade and get just enough to keep him going.

Both sailors say their love for travel is unique, even though their yachts were not extravagant like other yachts; and that they were pretty modest making do with whatever the sea threw their way.

Mr Bailey said with a smile that "the name of the yacht Guava Jelly pretty much describes me in that, I am sweet, tangy and yummy".

When I brought her, she was in a bad condition, but with my carpentry skills, I managed to patch her up and have her running like a brand new thing, "he said of his yacht.

According to Mr Rose, the name of his yacht was of Irish origins and refers to an Irish drum.

"I decided to keep the name since it reminded me of the dull thud that the hull of the yacht would make as it hit the waves," he said.

Mr Bailey said their annual tours normally ended up in Fiji and they had never tired of the place.

"Fijian people are awesome, beautiful people in the sense that they are very inclusive people, whenever we come around, we forget that we are strangers. We feel like we belong, " Mr Bailey said.

"The sevusevu is like an initiation into the Fijian way of life but what touches us most is the fact that not only do these beautiful people open their doors to us but they include us in their daily lives, and we walk in and out like we're family."

"I have never felt like a stranger in any Fijian island, unlike other places we have been to, where people may invite us but they do not always include us to share in their daily lives like the natives back here do, this is like a home away from home for us," mr Baily said.

Mr Rose on the other hand, described the Pacific Island nations as beautiful "however Fiji has that extra touch as its people make the place special," he said.

"We visit different islands every year in the Fiji group but the experience has been the same one of warmth and genuine hospitality," he added.

"This is the reason we come back and share whatever knowledge we have with the locals and help them in any way we can," he said.

Mr Rose wears a koru Maori tattoo on his left leg which he says, reminds him of his family back in the USA.

"This is a tattoo that I had done back in New Zealand and it is very Pacific to me, when I am away from home it reminds me of the people back home and when I am at home it reminds me of my adopted homes back here in the Pacific," he said.

"The koru are the ferns or tendril-like formations depicted in the tattoo which represents a family member."

"We both love Fiji and we will never stop coming back to this place for as long as we live as it is so much a part of us now," he said.

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