Saubalavu Loves Sailing
Sixty-one-year-old ship captain Sakaraia Saubalavu from Tarukua, Cicia in Lau enjoys his work.
He told the Fiji Sun that he would only leave this job for health reasons.
Mr Saubalavu has lost his wife, Olivia Saubalavu and they have four daughters who are now all married.
For his education, he started his primary level at Cicia District School. He started his secondary education at Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna Memorial School where he passed his Fiji Junior Examination and moved to Queen Victoria School (QVS) where he was a fifth former in 1973 and a sixth former in 1974.
From QVS he joined the Marine Department, now the Fiji Island Maritime Safety Administration (FIMSA) and attended the Derrick Technical Institute (DTI) now the Derrick campus in Samabula in 1975 as a cadet.
In those days he said they took theory classes for six months course before going out for one year industrial attachment.
“During that time all the cadet trainees need to board the vessel Degei for industrial attachment,” he said.
He was sponsored by the Marine Department.
Saubalavu did his course in second mate foreign vessel for one year at Derrick campus.
He started sailing in 1976 before he graduated in 1981 as Second Mate on the foreign vessel “Pacific Islander”.
After he graduated from Derrick Campus he boarded the government vessel, the Mataisau as chief mate.
The reason he boarded this vessel was to clear his bond for one year.
He spent one year in this vessel, sailing to Lau, Lomaiviti, Kadavu and Vanua Levu.
Saubalavu left the vessel Mataisau after he completed his one year with the marine and moved to oil vessel Dealman Navigation as a reliever in 1982 for three months in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
On the same year he joined the cargo vessel, “Soft Runner” where he worked as a mate. The cargo vessel transports containers to NZ, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji.
He spent two years sailing on the foreign vessels.
In 1984 his ticket as Master of the Fiji Island was endorsed by the Marine Board.
“From that time till today, I am still sailing,” he said.
He went through some short courses to upgrade his master’s ticket.
In 2000, he went to New Zealand to attend a three-week course in vessel management and electronic at Nelson Polytechnics College.
This course was sponsored by South Pacific Commission (SPC) and he was one of the two who represented Fiji.
After serving the international vessel for two years he went back to Derrick Campus for his three months short course on second mate in the Pacific Islands.
He was also master of a fishing vessel belonging Fresh Exporters Fishing Limited for 10 years. He was contracted for three years for the Nauru Fisheries Authority as master of the fishing vessel Oeaeo.
When asked if could mention some other vessel he boarded, he said he could only remember;
– Fishing vessel
– Cargo vessel
– Roll-Roll and
– Landing Barges
Today, he masters the vessel MV Sea Rakino which belongs to the Victoria Marine Limited and he is on contract for two years. This vessel is for passengers and cargoes only.
The vessel serves Kadavu, Labasa and Taveuni in a week. He enjoys sailing on this vessel.
Work and family
Mr Saubalavu said his work was demanding and he spent less time with his family.
However he always makes sure that there is always money for his family to survive.
Bligh Water (Vatu-I-Ra
He said this was one of the roughest seas in Fiji and it’s always good to hear the weather news before sailing.
As master of the vessel he could change the route to avoid rough passages but he had to inform the office of this.
Mr Saubalavu said he was also helping trainee cadets doing their industrial attachment on the Sea Rakino.
He said he usually urged them to work hard and ask questions if they were not sure of whatever duties they were carrying out.
Seafarers have been advised that a Bridging programme will be conducted to ensure that existing certificate of higher grades are appropriately upgraded in recognition of compliance with Standard Training, Certificate and Watchkeeping (STCW) Manila Amendment.
On January 1, 2012 the Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention and Code entered into force. However, a transitional period of five years was granted to allow seafarers and administrations to comply with the new requirements.
This period will end December 31, 2016. Only three months left to be compliant.
Fiji Maritime Academy (FMA) Executive Officer Taslim Mohammed said the tentative date to start the upgrading or bridging course for our seafarers was on the 19th of this month.
Mr Mohammed says FMA will be able to cater for the students in upgrading their Certificate of Competency (COC).
All seafarer’s certificates will expire on December 31 this year.
His advice cadet students that they should focus on their job. They need to learn to listen and sacrifice to fulfill their dreams.
“Please don’t give up”
He is planning to enroll at Fiji Maritime Academy for the bridging course.
The vessel master wants to lead by example for young seafarers and cadets to learn.
He knows that he has to make sacrifices and needs be well versed with his work.
For captain Saubalavu gets sick when he stays home but not on his vessel.
Best and worst
For Mr Saubalavu he will never forget his best lecturer at Derrick Campus, captain Marshal from England. He was very nice man and it was easy to understand his teaching. He will allow his students to understand the lesson they learnt before moving to the next topic.”
His worst was when he lost his wife last year.
Yesterday afternoon Captain Saubalavu left for Kadavu in the vessel Sea Rakino.