Beloved Cat Missing from boat in Savu Savu , Fiji
, in need of urgent medication daily
We are Sam and Andy with two Devon rex cats Mavis and Nude dude on a ‘rusty Bavaria
49’ travelling from England
. We decided to sail to Australia
(our final destination) because the ‘Trans fur ‘ pet transport company did not guarantee that my beloved cats would survive the trip or allow me to travel with them and I didn’t want their ears to pop basically. I had never sailed before and have struggled with sickness for over a year BUT I love my cats. Everything with the cats has been fine so far, and we are on the 2nd to last leg of the journey before quarantine in Sydney
Australia. On Thursday 4th September between 1230 and 1830 Mavis much loved cat went missing from the boat. We are on a mooring
outside the Waitui Marina, Savu Savu, Fiji
. Mavis can swim so we have been canvassing with posters searching the beaches and streets. The locals are very friendly and have been looking also. My concern is that despite no valuables removed from the boat 2 areas were disturbed on the boat which is not normal. At 0310 a few days prior I heard several Males on a local handmade raft travel down the side of the yacht towards the swim platform, I shone my torch and I received a ‘good evening’- which is unusual because 2030 is a late night in the South Pacific
. A few days after this a yacht at anchor
was broken into by someone on a bamboo raft. My cats are pedigree Devon Rex and have both been spayed; they have wrinkly semi furless skin and hanging stomachs. Basically the 2 questions asked when people see them are; do you shave your cat and are they pregnant. Our concern is Mavis was taken as she is a friendly cat and people stop at the boat to look at her. She has had cat flu since a kitten and she needs medication and supplements daily to keep the symptoms at bay. She is a very expensive cat to keep because of the supplements, medication and continuous eye operations due to the virus. She is no use to breeders, but she is a wonderfully friendly cat who has left a massive whole in my heart. I need to know any sittings whether she is dead or alive so we can have some peace. Our big concern is that she has been taken by a fellow boat owner so she may turn up elsewhere for this reason we have contacted biosecurity in Australia and New Zealand
and put an article on noonsite where all the ‘yachties’ go for information and warnings about new destinations. Our hope is if you can put our story in the paper it will both be a warning to others but you may also locate my cat.
Film on YouTube to make identification easier. Mavis the Devon rex cat.LOST from Yacht in Savusavu Fiji, - YouTube
It is now the 16th of September, there have been no sightings and it is Election Day a public holiday with a threat of a coup if the current government
is not re-elected.
When you come to Fiji per cat you have to pay a bond $1,500 which is forfeit if the cat is missing from the boat. My husband reported Mavis’ disappearance the next working day and told biosecurity he would update them on Monday 8th. On the 9th we were called by the Marina to say that Biosecurity were coming to see us, without any law or legislation stated my husband was told we were to be fined a further $1600 for the offence shown below:
Section 29 of the Biosecurity Promulgation 2008. This section states the following,
Environmental obligations of masters and captains
29.—(1) The master of every incoming vessel must, while the vessel is in the Fiji Islands—
(a) take all necessary steps to prevent any animal on board the vessel from making contact with any animal on shore unless permitted by a biosecurity ofﬁcer, and then only as directed by the ofﬁcer.
(7) A master who contravenes subsection (1)(b), fails to take all reasonable steps as required by subsection
(1)(a), (2), (3) or (4) or fails to obey a direction of a biosecurity ofﬁcer given under any of those subsections commits an offence.
My husband is a retired UK Metropolitan Police officer who served 32 years and I was a Police Community Support Officer for 7 years with the UK Met, we have both issued FPNs we know without explaining the legislation the ticket is null and void and of course the person has to be proven to be guilty of the offence. We immediately went to the Biosecurity to find out the legislation:
Offence: Not taking reasonable grounds to keep my pets
from being in contact with Fiji animals
They told us to write to their legal
team so we sat in a café and wrote a letter to hand deliver, one of the biosecurity employees appeared from nowhere and gave us an email
address which we only found out was incorrect 3 days later, when he approached us in the street to ask us when we were going to pay the fine. It is now over 7 days which is the period given from receipt of the FPN to pay otherwise we go straight to court. Despite their evidence on the ticket only being ‘Andy chowns came into the Biosecurity office on 5th September to report cat Mavis missing from SY Cursus Tempus’. We have travelled from England
with two cats in all conditions and they have stayed on the boat safely. The whole boat is surrounded by net, we chose to moor out on a buoy to give any stray dog or cat the means of reaching the boat. My cats hate water
and at 10 years of age have no other interests than eating, sunbathing and washing
. Currently there is no proof that Mavis has drowned or set foot on land, neither do we have proof she was taken from the boat.
In an English
court I consider that we would have a good chance of a verdict in our favour, hence the anxiety is that despite not having any evidence their ‘legal team’ is still pursuing the fine. Being shadowed by their employees in the street, feels like harassment and the FPN, extortion and corruption – which I don’t want to encourage.
I would stress at this point that my primary concern is to find my cat. The additional stress of being financially penalised is secondary but adds strain to an already stressful situation.
I guess I should clear up the misnomer that anyone who owns a yacht is wealthy; we live on the yacht and will have a home ‘if’ we can sell the boat. They are pretty much a money
pit and this wonderful but stressful voyage has made my husband realise he cannot be retired anymore! Our whole voyage has been hiked prices, even in England people think you are loaded if you have a boat, you are charged the earth for everything. You speak to other travellers as they spend weeks fixing their boats in exotic places and realise unless you are completely loaded financially you are ‘broke because you have a boat’. In the South Pacific
islanders think you are loaded, you actually see the greed in people’s eyes from 20 paces. We have made friends with locals and they tell us the ones that humbly need your help will not ask, but it is finding those. We have given away so much and helped as many people as we can but, we are not rich.
The Male who issued the fine has since come to the boat to change the date on the FPN; this would make the FPN null and void in the UK. We have not refused the Biosecurity team a thing because to do this you would not be complying with the conditions of the agreement to be in Fiji waters. I have found this really difficult because I am broken at the loss of my cat, to be fined on top of that when we are not guilty of the offence, to be hounded literally daily, is more than I can bear. We sent a letter to their legal
team but they have advised a court date. If we stay for the court date we put ourselves at high risk of hitting a hurricane
and dying at sea. We obviously did not predict any of this, we did not reserve a cyclone mooring
here because we did not realise we would stay so long. We have stayed way to long already because my husband knows how broken I would be never knowing if I have left her behind or not. To date there has not been one sighting of my cat, if she is found biosecurity want to kill her. Fiji have a huge problem with American iguanas, that were introduced by some inconsiderate person, and they are doing their best to eradicate this species that have damaged there ecosystem. But to kill a cat that cannot reproduce, has all anti-rabies shots, and can’t catch fleas seems perverse. The streets here are littered with dogs
that are hungry and in need of veterinary care. Since I have got here I have been working with locals to tame some of the animals
and rehome them.
We are waiting on advice of a local lawyer to see if we can have the court date bought forward in order to contest this fine, but all biosecurity need to do is to not turn up to the hearing to for an adjournment. I have spoken to a dog owner who had his dog taken in Fiji and returned after offering a reward through the local paper. We have taken advice from locals to not put reward on our advertisement or in the article for fear of encouraging a business in animal napping. We were told that hostels are regularly broken into and the goods passed to another to receive the found reward. We have been pursuing the Fiji Sun and Times but have had no reply as yet.
We feel we have been treated poorly by the biosecurity team, the FPN would not stand up in court but we cannot stay for the court date because the hurricanes have already started in Mexico
. I hate injustice, I hate corruption. If we do not pay the fine they still have the bond for Dude my other cat in their possession. If we do not pay the fine we will be arrested at our next port. If we do not pay the fine we will not be welcomed back in the country, and I wanted to work with Fiji Animal to start going into schools to teach about caring for animals (in my spare time!).
When my husband convinced me and my family
this was a safe trip to go on he showed me the weather
windows when we would be travelling to avoid the weather
that sinks boats. Everywhere we have travelled to say the same thing, “The rain/wind/sea conditions are the worst in recent history”. Basically the weather patterns this year seem to be abnormal, the conditions we have sailed through have never echoed the predictions so without delays such as these the trip to Sydney
, Australia will be petrifying not electrifying.
Yours sincerely and heartfelt Thanks in advance.
Since I started this voyage I have been the lady that goes round with a bag full of cat and dog food
feeding the strays. I want to write children’s books
to raise money
to start and education programme, but first start small and illustrate a colouring / workbook to take into schools. If I had an ark, despite my inability to keep anything down while sailing I would travel the world with a team of vets and save all the ill- treated animals ,there is a lot and it has made the journey hell for me, but seeing the cruelty has also given me a new vocation to make a difference through education – working with local charities /vets (if there are any) to teach children
and adults to care for the animals and land and sea and to get basic animal husbandry taught in the islands of the South Pacific – if you are going to eat meat, feed the animal and care for it = more food! I have never understood why people bully or exert energy committing acts of cruelty when we could use the same energy to make good changes. Ghandi said ’The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated’.
A Devon Rex cat by the name of ‘Mavis’
Please contact Ben
Or Waitui Marina on 885 3447
Or Ch16 VHF