Young Boys Brave Sea Alone After Grandfather Dies On Fishing Trip

Josese, 8, and Sakeasi, 4, use knowledge taught by grandad to make it home from reef safely, alert family
03 Dec 2020 11:57
Young Boys Brave Sea Alone After Grandfather Dies On Fishing Trip
Four-year-old, Sakeasi Rabaka sits in the boat that he, his late grandfather, Josese Naululoa and his eight-year-old cousin Josese used to go fishing. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Two young boys had to push their dead grandfather’s lifeless body onto a reef to prevent it from being washed away.

At more than 200 metres from the Natovi shoreline and with all attempts to get their grandfather onto their wooden boat having failed, the two boys – one aged 8 and other aged 4 – had to sail back to shore to get help as the sun began to set.


How It All Initially Came About

On Monday November 23, Josese Naululoa, 66, went fishing at a reef called ‘ucu ni cakau rua’. He had gone to this spot numerous times and often came back with bounty in his net.

Accompanying him were his young grandsons Josese, 8, and Sakeasi, 4. The boys came along just as they had often done in the past. That day, they had nagged the old man to take them with him.

The three of them anchored near the reef and were collecting the net in knee deep water. Tragically, Mr Naululoa suffered an aortic aneurysm. This meant that a blood vessel to his heart ruptured.

He fell face down into water. The two boys turned their grandfather upwards hoping he would not drown.

They pulled him onto the reef and started trying to revive him by beating his chest.

It was to no avail. As the sun set, Josese made the decision to go back to shore and get help.

“We tried putting him on the boat but he was just too heavy so we dragged him towards the rocks and safely put him on top so that the water could not reach him,”  said the Year Three Delainakaikai Primary School student.

“We ran back to put the fishing net into the boat and we went back to check on him, but he was not responding or moving. He was foaming from the mouth.”


Bravely Sailing Back

This is when young Josese got into the boat with his cousin.

His grandfather and namesake had taught him how to start the 15 horsepower engine and two boys bravely navigated their way home to the Waivola Settlement in Tailevu.

Josese’s father, Nacanieli Nagatalevu said the quick reaction from his son saved them both.

“My father had taught my son how to steer a boat and attend to engine malfunctions, how to pump fuel back and get it started,” he said.

“On their way back, the engine malfunctioned three times, and each time he was able to fix it so that it could get them near to shore.

“He carefully manoeuvred the boat into the reef passage, and for someone his age that is quite incredible because most adults here still have difficulty doing that.”

Mr Nagatalevu clearly recalled the incident when he saw Josese running back home.

“As soon as they reached home, their grandmother stopped them and asked what had happened and that’s when they both said, “O Pa sa mate!!!” (Granddad has died)

The boys were quickly accompanied by their uncle and a friend at around 8pm to retrieve their grandfather’s body.

Mr Nagatalevu said the two boys were not supposed to accompany their grandfather to sea that day.

He said the constant nagging was enough to change their grandfather’s mind.

“If they had not gone together, we would not have known about his death and it would have taken a long time to send a rescue party for him,” he said.

When the rescue party reached the reef, the rising tide had almost submerged Mr Naululoa’s body.

He was laid to rest on Saturday.





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