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From Fiji Sun (18 October 2019)

Perserverance Earns Captain Solomone His Dream Job

The father of one is the first sea Captain in his family and the youngest with Goundar's nine vessels.

By Wati Talebula

Captain Solomone

Government vessels berthing at the old Oinafa jetty, in Rotuma always fascinated Tonu Raurikue Solomone, as a young lad growing up in Motusa Village.

Soon after Class Eight he came over to Viti Levu to attend Saraswati College for Year Nine to Year 12 to pursue his dream.

"I always dreamed about becoming a sea Captain one day. My home in Rotuma is close to the sea and whenever ships like Wairua and Kaunitoni came to our bay I always wanted to come to Fiji to study and become a sea captain," Mr Solomone said.

"It was my dream when I sat at the beach and looking at the passengers going to Fiji; I always told myself that one day I will be one of those passengers," he said.

The 33-year-old is now the Captain of Lomaiviti Princess 3.

The father of one is the first sea Captain in his family and the youngest with Goundar's nine vessels.

"I left Rotuma and lived with my sister in Nausori so that I can study and make my dream come true.

"I attended Saraswati College from 2002 until 2005 and then I went to do my tertiary education at the Fiji Maritime Academy."

"In 2006 I started studying at the Fiji Maritime Academy. I did my Stage 1and that is Diploma in Neuroethical Science and graduated in 2009."

"One of the challenges I faced was English. This is because in Rotuma we always speak in Rotuman and I spoke very little English.

"It was hard specially to come from the island and to speak in English all the time.

"Maths and Physics were my toughest subjects in school because I always had average pass all the time and it was a must to have a mark of 75 per cent and above when doing Stage 5.

"This was also another challenge for me because I didn't take Physics in secondary. One of my friends was very good in Physics, he always helped me.
"I always stay back after school to study more; I always make sure that I get on the 8pm bus to get home

"My sister paid my fees from Stage 1to Stage 5. I studied full time and, in the weekend, I did my cadetship with Patterson Shipping.

"On Fridays we used to finish our classes at 1 pm and then would catch the bus to go to Natovi to board one of Patterson vessels either to Levuka or Nabouwalu.

"On Mondays I will be in school. This was my routine every week. My allowance was $50.

"I didn't see the money because I knew that once 1succeed everything was going to work out.

"I would sleep along the way until I reach school on Monday.

"Sometimes it was hard and we used to camp in school two weeks before the exams to study.

"In Stage I, one of the teachers used to tell us that many will be called and a few will be chosen. He said some will become captains, mates and crew and that was true.

"Sometimes I never sleep because I was worried about Physics and Maths and when the exams were over then I would rest myself.

"When assignments were given, we had to make sure that they were done even when we were out at sea doing our cadetship.

"It was difficult because we had to wake up during odd hours."

The Reality
"My mother was not very happy when I told her that I wanted to become a seafarer because she wanted me to become a teacher but my dad told me that if I really wanted to be a seafarer then I can go ahead and become one," Mr Solomone said.

"One thing parents must understand is that they should allow their children choose their own career. There is no use forcing their child to do something they are not interested in.

"I always tell my crew that I am not a very bright person but if they want to become a Captain then they can do it.

"We can all dream of becoming a Captain but you must work hard to make that dream come true.

"I have been a sea Captain from February, 2018 and my maiden voyage was my trip to Koro.

Tonu Solomone

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