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Fiji Time: 7:04 PM on Monday 21 April

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Thrills on the water

Shayal Devi
Friday, February 22, 2013

Sailor by profession and at heart, Doug Cusick is enthralled by the thrills of life.

The 61-year-old is originally from the US, and has been in Fiji for the past three years.

The years have been good to him and he chats casually with a cheerful personality that could make one listen for hours.

This, he said, has to do with the Pacific setting.

When interviewed, the sailor described his first-hand account of how destructive mother nature could be.

He was at the Vuda Point Marina, near Lautoka, where his yacht is berthed.

Amid what he was used to, the serenity and beauty of the waterfront, he described Tropical Cyclone Evan as "frightening".

"The stress of getting ready for the cyclone, it was traumatic. Pre-panic," he said.

He commended the staff of the marina for their excellent job in protecting the yachts from significant damage.

"Some staff stayed behind with the boats at the height of the cyclone," he said.

After the cyclone had passed, he was amazed at the quick response by staff members who had completely cleaned up the marina two days after December 17, 2012, the day Evan struck the Fiji Group.

"The staff members were amazing, and what was even more incredible was how the yachters banded together as a tight-knit family and helped everyone out," he said.

Evan was not Doug's first cyclone experience.

"Not my first, but certainly the worst! I survived Mick and Thomas in Fiji several years ago," he said.

Doug works for Yacht Help, and has been the proud owner of the yacht, Renegade, for 21 years now. His wife, Nishy, is a co-owner of the yacht and she is a teacher by profession.

"Renegade is 37-feet long," Doug said.

"I brought Renegade new and then thought of sailing around the world. It took 10 years for me to plan and get my life in order so I could accomplish my dream" he said.

He says he has been sailing since his pre-teen years when the parents of a friend introduced him to it.

Through sailing, he has been able to see and experience the beauty and exquisite flavours other parts of the world had to offer.

Sailing has been an integral part of Doug's life, and not just because it allowed the sailor to go places. It has also helped build his character.

Of places he's visited, he said: "I have been to Mexico, and then worked as a boat captain in Hawaii where I lived aboard my vessel and then all over the South Pacific and onward to Australia and then back here via Vanuatu."

During his sailing career, he has faced numerous challenges and experienced many adventures that have tested him physically and emotionally.

Perhaps the most testing experience was when his boat was shipwrecked in 2009.

"I shipwrecked my boat near Savusavu in 2009, it made front page news in the papers, I wrote several articles about it and all that happened," he said.

"I got arrested for supposedly gun smuggling and my friend almost got deported," he said.

He says life in Fiji was very relaxing when compared to life in the US.

"Everything is fast paced overseas and especially in the States. Here, it is relaxing" he said

However, he has learnt a few things in Fiji. "I have learnt patience. I have learnt to wait a little and not rush with things especially work done by people" he added with a laugh.