Friday, June 23, 2017

Part One

SayandraOne of the success stories of the post-war South Pacific tourist industry has been Blue Lagoon Cruises in Fiji. The pioneer of Fijian cruising was Captain Trevor Withers, a lawyer and wartime flying officer from New Zealand, who came to Fiji in the late 1940s with the intention of establishing a fishing industry.

His business partner was Harold Gatty, also a pilot, who gained fame in 1931 by flying around the world in eight days with renowned American Wiley Post.

Withers and Gatty were told that large schools of yellowfin and skipjack tuna were to be found in the uncharted waters of the Yasawa group of islands, off the west coast of Viti Levu, the main Fijian island. Withers went to the Yasawas to meet the local chiefs and obtain their permission to fish in local waters, but after four years of surveying the potential fishing industry the two men realised they could not establish a viable fishing industry in the area.

However, Withers was so taken by the beauty of the Yasawas, he decided to establish a cruise operation around the islands from Lautoka. At the time there was virtually no tourist industry in Fiji at all, and only one hotel of international standard, which was located in Suva. The only visitors were passengers on liners passing through Suva for a day on their way somewhere else. Gatty could see no future in the cruises, but went on to establish Fiji Airways, the forerunner of Air Pacific.

LyciandaIn New Zealand in 1950, Withers purchased a 42-foot long American-built fast crash boat, powered by twin diesel engines. It was brought to Suva, refitted with cabin accommodation for six passengers, and a crew of four, and renamed Turaga Levu.

In 1948, Blue Lagoon, starring Jean Simmons, had been filmed in the Yasawas, and became a world-wide hit, so Withers decided to call his operation Blue Lagoon Cruises. For the first departure there were no paying passengers on the wharf at Lautoka, but, aware that celebrations had been prepared to greet the boat in the Yasawas, Withers offered six Fijian men he knew who were on the wharf the opportunity to be the first passengers. At 10am on that Monday morning, Turaga Levu left the Lautoka wharf.

Withers advertised departures from Lautoka every Monday morning, returning Thursday afternoon, and although the boat left on a regular basis, for weeks the only passengers were Fijians making the one-way trip to or from the Yasawas.

Finally, an American colonel and his wife became the first fare-paying passengers. Checking to make sure everything was perfect, Withers decided the toilet seat needed repainting, and shortly after Turaga Levu left Lautoka. Later in the day there were cries of pain from the ships toilet, where the colonel was firmly stuck to the seat. It was a delicate and painful procedure to free him, and they had to return to Lautoka for medical attention. After treatment, the colonel decided to rejoin the vessel and continue the cruise.

Over the next three months, Turaga Levu made 12 cruises, but only carried 27 passengers, and Captain Withers was facing financial ruin. Having already sold his car, Withers sold the rest of his possessions, while the four crew members agreed to receive half wages. Withers went to the United States, and in five weeks hosted 31 cocktail parties in various west coast cities, during which he showed slides of the Yasawas and extolled the cruise he operated.

Continued next month

 

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - October 2011 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Safmarine Meru

Most Popular

  • 22 Die as Ore Carrier Sinks in South Atlantic +

  • HMS Westminster Returns to Service +

  • Denbighshire, My First Voyage (Part 2) +

  • Forces Respond to Bulk Carrier Pirate Attack +

  • Honoured for Rescue +

  • 1
  • 2

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • Pirate and Robbery Attacks on the Rise +

    Piracy Pirates and armed robbers attacked 43 ships and captured 58 seafarers in the first quarter of this year, slightly more Read More
  • FPSO Bound For The North Sea +

    Xin Guang Hua The semi-submersible heavy lift ship Xin Guang Hua, 84,239gt, of Cosco Shipping, China, arrived at Rotterdam on Apr 13 carrying Read More
  • Tyne-Built Icebreaker Marks 100 Years +

    Krasin One of the world’s most famous icebreakers celebrates 100 years since she was built on the Tyne. Read More
  • 22 Die as Ore Carrier Sinks in South Atlantic +

    Stellar Daisy Two crew members were rescued and 22 died after the South Korean ore carrier Stellar Daisy, 226,141dwt, sank in the Read More
  • Forces Respond to Bulk Carrier Pirate Attack +

    OS-35 The Tuvalu-registered bulk carrier OS 35, 35,362dwt, that was boarded by armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden was freed Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • New Staten Island Double-Enders +

    Staten Island Ferry New York City’s Department of Transportation has awarded the contract to construct three new 4,500-passenger ferries to Eastern Shipbuilding of Read More
  • First LNG Conro for Crowley +

    El Coqui VT Halter Marine launched the first of Crowley’s Commitment-class con-ros with delivery of the lead vessel, El Coqui, expected later Read More
  • Who Needs Tugs +

    SS Keewatin With a bollard pull of 851 people, SS Keewatin was towed to her new berth in in Port McNicoll, Canada Read More
  • Goodbye to “Big E” (For Now) +

    USS Enterprise The world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and only ship of her class, USS Enterprise (CVN-65) was decommissioned on 3 February Read More
  • Business is Good on the Panama Canal +

    Panama Canal Seven months after the beginning of operations, 2017 is off to a strong start as January 2017 saw the Panama Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Navy Leads Response To Fire On Container Ship +

    MSC Daniela The Sri Lanka Navy led the response after a fire broke out on the container ship MSC Daniela, 151,559gt, of Read More
  • Honoured for Rescue +

    Coment Ace The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) recognised the master and crew of the Japan-managed car carrier Comet Ace, 36,615gt, for Read More
  • Last Hanjin Ship Sold For Breaking Up +

    Hanjin Rome The last ship of the former South Korean shipping line Hanjin Shipping was sold for breaking up on Mar 1. Read More
  • Ship Banned Over Hull Fouling +

    DL Marigold The Panamanian flag bulk carrier DL Marigold, 33,752 dwt, was ordered by the New Zealand authorities from both New Zealand Read More
  • Lines Fined In China Freight Tariffs Disputes +

    China Ministry of Transport Logo China's Ministry of Transport has fined 14 international container shipping lines because they either failed to report freight tariffs to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • HMS Westminster Returns to Service +

    HMS Westminster British News After two years out of service undergoing a major reconstruction and refit, the Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster Read More
  • New Voyages for USS Enterprise +

    USS Enterprise American News Huntington Ingalls Industries was awarded a $25.5 million contract to essentially start the advanced fabrication of the third Read More
  • Naval Update - April 2017 +

    USS Antietam American News On Tuesday 31 January, the Ticonderoga class cruiser USS Antietam ran aground off the coast of Yokosuka in Read More
  • New Astute Class Submarine +

    HMS Audacious Royal Navy News On 16 December, in a rather chilly Devonshire Dock Hall at BAE Systems shipyard at Barrow in Read More
  • Trump Starts Biggest Build-up in Decades +

    USS Wichita American News Incoming President, Donald Trump has stated publicly that he wants to expand the current fleet of the US Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • New Fast Ferry Deliveries +

    Express 3 News of Fast ferry investment; Express 3 has sailed from Tasmania on her delivery voyage to Denmark via the Panama Read More
  • Ferry Implications of Brexit +

    Cote des Dunes It must be a uniquely worrying time for operators of UK Ro-Ro Ferry ports with an uncertain future entirely out Read More
  • CalMac Finlaggan's Safety Drive +

    Finlaggan It is just over two years since CalMac’s Finlaggan and her crew won a prestigious safety award ‘with merit’ from Read More
  • Maritime Wonder of the World +

    Stad tunnel entrance Ever since I visited Norway I have heard the locals speak in awe and fear of the rounding of Stad, Read More
  • Cruiser News +

    Maid of the Loch There seems to be positive news about the long laid up as a static attraction, restaurant and events venue, Maid Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Pioneering Spirit For Teeside +

    Pioneering Spirit Teesside has lost most of its steel manufacturing and much of the shipping traffic it brought, but at the other Read More
  • Troubles for Ahlmarks' Skagern +

    Skagern Ahlmark is Sweden’s oldest shipping company, founded by 1847, and still going strong, if not as strong as they used Read More
  • The Dawn +

    Dawn The 81ft Dawn, a ‘heritage’ sailing barge with an open hold and tiller-steered, took out trips last summer for people Read More
  • Grand Bank Schooners +

    Creoula In the 1930s when the last of the square-riggers were making voyages from Australia to Britain with grain, Portugal was Read More
  • Tilbury Port +

    Pompey Power Forth Ports PLC own ‘The Port of Tilbury’ which they term in a recent press release to be ‘London’s major Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • MV Balmoral Needs Your Help +

    MV Balmoral I have a great fondness for the marvellous pleasure cruiser MV Balmoral and a great respect for the team which Read More
  • New BMT Simulator for MAIB +

    BMT Simulation The phrase "The MAIB has been in touch regarding...." was not one I was keen on hearing when I was Read More
  • Damen Celebrates 90 Years +

    Damen Family Our congratulations go to Damen who are, this year, celebrating nine decades of operations in the shipbuilding industry. Read More
  • Isle of Wight Fast Ferries Rebirth +

    Thames Clippers It was a delight to travel down to Southampton in late April and then across to East Cowes (Isle of Read More
  • 2017 Spring Quilliam Lecture +

    Qilliam Lecture Poster "Wives and Sweethearts in Quilliam's Navy" is another eye-catching title for the Spring Quilliam Lecture on Thursday 27th April in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • The “Celebrity Edge” +

    Celebrity Edge You have to admire the innovative mindset that is evident within the creative corridors of a modern cruise line. Read More
  • The Mailship vs The Corsair +

    Windsor Castle and Corsair Before the Internet, Websites, Blogs and eNewsletters presented themselves to an unsuspecting world, the arrival of the monthly passenger shipping Read More
  • Cloud 9 Launched in Italy +

    Cloud 9 Nine different colours of cloudlike smoke were used as a backdrop when Cloud 9, the brand new 74 metre superyacht Read More
  • Superyacht Mothership Breeds Modular Apartments +

    X R-Evolution Designer Stefano Pastrovich, the head of Monaco-based Pastrovich Studios, has been telling Haute Living magazine of his conceptual superyacht whose Read More
  • New Builds: Seven Seas Explorer and Seabourn Encore +

    Seabourn Encore and Seven Seas Explorer. In recent months, two brand new cruise vessels have been constructed and delivered which the respective owners have claimed have Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

U-864

U-864 Finally Laid to Rest

A small memorial service was held in February 2017 over the wreck site that had, over the course of nearly Read More
Pudong, Shanghai

Denbighshire, My First Voyage (Part 2)

On Friday, I was called at 0130 and went on the poop as we were entering the Huangpu river, a Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Painting of Venus

A Quartet for the North Sea

The chain of events that led to the Bergen Line building the Venus started in the head office of Swedish Read More
MS Pacheco

Happy Seagoing Days - MacAndrew Line

After gaining my Masters Certificate in July 1962, I started to look for another job on General cargo ships, but Read More
  • 1
  • 2