Sunday, 6 May 2012

Vale Allan Roxburgh

Allan Roxburgh aboard
MV Fiji Princess in Feb 2009
Many passengers aboard Blue Lagoon Cruises will fondly remember Allan Roxburgh, a Fiji-born kai viti of Scottish descent known locally as "the old cock", who accompanied many of History & Culture itineraries over the last few years. Allan, who was about to celebrate his 80th birthday in December, died after a short illness.
I sailed with Allan twice on these enriching voyages, enjoying his sometimes rambling tales of adventures in the Fiji Islands as a child with his father aboard a copra schooner during the war years and afterward.
Born in the old colonial-era capital of Levuka on the island of Ovalau, Allan enjoyed immersing guests in the history of the old town and would tell many stories you'd never read in the history books.
"I'd be at school and my younger brother would come to the class and say 'Dad wants you'. Everyone knew what that meant. 'Alright Allan, off you go', the teacher would say and I'd race home and grab my gear because Dad was about to set sail."
This writer owes a small debt of gratitude to Roxburgh for introducing me to the wonderful tale of Count Felix von Luckner, the buccaneering German nobleman who ranged throughout the Pacific in 1917. On our visits to the quaint old Ovalau Club on Levuka, where von Luckner's hand-drawn portrait hangs, we would raise a glass to the Count and Alan would retell the fascinating yarn of his arrest by a tiny militia detachment from Levuka who bluffed the Germans with a coconut trunk rigged as a dummy deckgun on a commandeered ferry.
Allan's funeral was held in Lautoka and was attended by the President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, as well other dignitaries and community figures. He was then buried at sea according to his wishes.
We'll raise a glass to Allan this week at the Ovalua Club. Travel well old friend.