A few years before my wife was my wife, she was a long-distance girlfriend who had met another guy. Heidi dropped that news the night before we had planned to meet in Fiji,where we’d booked a sailing trip aboard the Tui Tai, a 140-foot, three-masted ship. We had nonrefundable airline tickets, we had taken time off and lined up a screaming deal, so against all reason, Heidi and I went anyway. Fiji is so beautiful, we figured, it would be impossible to be miserable there. Before sailing, we killed a few days on a remote, roadless corner of Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island, swimming, scuba diving, and snorkeling around lollipop purple coral at a retreat run by two German speakers who lived so removed from reality they had their own made-up time zone called “dolphin time.” It wasn’t enough. Heidi wanted to skip the Tui Tai, go home, and start a new life.
Or so she thought. As we played like porpoises, with no Internet, no phone, we had no way of knowing that a gathering storm had forced the Tui Tai to leave its harbor in nearby Savusavu earlier than planned. By sheer luck, we happened to spot the ship’s magnificent crimson sails as it cruised north along the coast and right by our diving retreat. The owners put us on a skiff and maneuvered alongside the bucking ship. I leapt aboard, turned to Heidi and held out my hand to effect a dramatic “Are you sure?” moment of truth. Before she could protest, someone grabbed her bag with her passport and tossed it aboard.
It was the best decision we never made. We spent five nights on the three-deck ship, sipping cocktails on daybeds and working through our differences in our cushy stateroom. We, along with a dozen other guests, sailed along the island of Taveuni and out to islands where local chiefs allowed the Tui Tai exclusive access to harbor. The crew Zodiac’d us off to lonely beaches with a picnic basket and a radio to call for a pickup. We named new dive sites, kayaked, leaped from waterfalls, and snuggled as the crew sang breathy songs about the sunset. By the end of the trip, there was no other guy in the picture.