Why You Should Never Turn Down A (Free) Boat Trip To Fiji
Come inside for a teaser, mini gallery and the kava.
Late July, I joined Chippa Wilson, Harrison Roach, Tai “Buddha” Graham, Jay Button, photog Woody Gooch, film guy Andy Gough and trip coordinator Saxon Gallagher as the token American on a boat in Fiji for ten days to document VONU beer’s launch in Australia. We found surf. We visited a remote island, were accepted into their tribe and got to know, if only briefly the local villagers.
Throughout those days a lot transpired - more than I could record into the “longread” story that will complement the short film they’ve put together from those tropical days at sea premiering on Stab October 20th. The teaser is above. And the BTS clip will live below this text. Being that this small anecdote from the trip didn’t quite mesh with the piece I was just tapping about, it seemed appropriate to include in this introductory play.
Ari Browne under moody Fijian sky.
On the sixth day (I think), we hit shore. It had been a while since ground didn’t sway beneath our feet, and so, our equilibriums swayed. I’d always thought sealegs meant being able to walk steadily throughout a moving ship, that’s not the case. Sealegs are when you hit land and you continue to rock (I think).
We were at some backpackers joint in Smuggler's Cove. We brought along a cooler full of Vonu and sat on the outskirts of the bar after our cooler was denied entrance into the bar. Fair enough. After a few too many, Buddha, Harrison, Saxon and I ended up in a Kava circle for tourists. There was a Fijian man playing American folk songs in a red basketball jersey. He spoke like Barry White. We sat cross-legged on the mat. A small wide-eyed Fijian man in a WSL hat sifted the Kava root in what looked like a dirty T-shirt, in a dirty bowl and passed around the cup. We clapped three times, said, “Bula,” drank, said, “Vinaka," and clapped once more. We did this for hours - must have gone through eight bowls. We waited for some effect, somewhat hoping to get torched on some crazy root. But really, all it did was make us slightly high and lethargic the next morning.
The water clarity in Fiji is something to marvel at. Jay Button makes his ascent.
The Fijian Barry White grew tired of playing. He asked us the crowd if anyone played guitar. Buddha volunteered me. I grabbed the guitar and played and sang awfully. Missing chords, forgetting lyrics, nodding off. The group clapped in pity. Buddha then played a few songs. He was charismatic, he cracked jokes, shouted “Bula!” The crowd sang along. They laughed. They adored him. We continued the Kava binge. Saxon played beautifully. Harrison played adequately. We took over the jam session, playing the few notes, chords and songs we knew. Looking back we probably sounded about as pleasing to the ear as cats clawing at screen doors, or mediocre musicians, high on Kava, drunk on Vonu and worn out by means of sun, salt, waves and a crowded ship.
Harry and Buddha, out to sea.
When we returned the boat, Woody greeted us. “What were you guys doing?”
“We ended up playing guitar in a Kava circle for far too long,” someone replied.
“I know,” he laughed. “I saw you guys and thought, I want no part in that weird hippy jam session.”