2017 turned out to be the year of repeats. Our second year in Fiji, our second year going to Tokoriki for our anniversary, our second year going to Beachcomber for New Years, and our second year getting an iPhone stolen. We looked into doing something different for New Year’s Eve, but if you want to party in this corner of the world, then Beachcomber Island is the closest thing to it. There is a new day club not too far away, and we looked into that, but it is only a day club, and does not offer overnight accommodation. Beachcomber was a blast last year though, so why not end the year the same way we started it?

We drove over in our boat named Flexi, across the turquoise sea to the little blob of sand where someone decided to set up a backpacker’s hostel. This year we splurged and booked a private room instead of the dorm.

Aerial view of Beachcomber Island (Image source: Google)

I unloaded our bags onto the beach while Fletch manned the boat. In the process of unloading, Fletch realized he didn’t have his phone on him. It must have gotten packed away into a bag somewhere. I left to find someone to show us where we could moor up the boat, while Fletch searched for his phone. After getting the boat situated, we pulled up the Find iPhone app on my phone, and saw it sitting on the beach back on Mana Island in front of Danny’s place. Figuring it must have fallen out of his pocket while we were loading everything up, Fletch messaged our coworker Shane to ask him to go grab it. As Shane was walking down towards the beach, the dot on the screen representing Fletch’s iPhone began moving out towards the boat channel. Maybe Danny had found it and sent it along with someone who was heading our way. Fiji is a small place like that. 

We asked Shane what boat was leaving Mana island right then, and he replied that it was the Mana Flyer, full of fat, white tourists. He thought that it was heading towards Beachcomber next, and so amazed by our luck, Fletch went down to the beach to wait for the boat’s arrival, while I went to secure us two plates of what was left of the greasy lunch buffet.

When I saw Fletch again, he was not happy. The Mana Flyer had not stopped at Beachcomber, it had just kept going, and Fletch had watched in dismay as the little dot of his phone zoomed past us on the GPS tracker. Fletch was kicking himself for not just jumping on our boat and being ready to meet them at sea.

We’d already sent a message to the phone to please call my number if the phone was found. Fletch changed it now to offer a nice reward if whoever had it would turn it in. Apple has this wonderful feature where you can lock your phone remotely, rendering it useless to anyone who doesn't have the passcode. All they can see is whatever message you send to the main screen.

Fletch managed to track down the phone number for the captain of the Mana Flyer. Fiji is small enough so that anyone you know is bound to know a person who knows the person you’re looking for. He told the boat captain that someone on that boat had his phone. The captain said he would ask around, and Fletch threatened to have the cops waiting at the boat’s landing if no one turned it in.

The Mana Flyer parks next to our own transfer boat at Fantasy Island in Nadi, and so we knew where it was heading. When we saw the dot on the GPS start heading north for Lautoka instead, we were surprised. I looked up at the horizon, towards Lautoka off in the distance, and saw a large cruise ship sitting there. That added up with the fat white tourists that Shane said had been on board. (No offense to any of you cruise goers out there). Fletch was still making phone calls on my phone and had managed to get in touch with the owner of the Mana Flyer, who confirmed that the boat was dropping people off on the cruise ship.

Fletch hung up looking defeated. If the phone was on the cruise ship, then it was gone. We picked at the greasy assortment of food in front of us. Beachcomber is a fun place to go, but the food really sucks. I had thought it was alright the year previous. I don’t know what I was on though, because it didn’t even come close to being alright. Everything that wasn’t meat was fried to the point that it was more oil than food. The disappointment from the day’s mishap, coupled with the unappetizing food meant neither one of us ate much.

Fletch tried to cheer himself up by saying that it was just a phone. He had backed it up recently so nothing was lost. He could erase the phone remotely so no important information was stolen. Both of us were still safe and healthy. Phones can be replaced. Material possessions aren’t of much concern to either one of us, but the loss of faith in humanity for just taking something that isn't yours, that’ll leave you upset for a while.

Fletch hit the erase button in the Find iPhone app, and we headed to the bar to try and cheer ourselves up.

We went back to the room for something after a few rounds, I can’t remember what, but while we were there I looked at the Find iPhone app again just out of curiosity. The phone was back online, and the location had just been updated to a big building in the port of Lautoka. It hadn’t gotten on the cruise ship, which meant one of the Mana Flyer crew had it. I showed Fletch and just like that the search was back on. Fletch called the Mana Flyer captain, he called the owner, he called our boss who owns the jetty where the Mana Flyer parks, and finally someone got in touch with the cops.

Everything slowly started falling into place. We tracked the phone as it left Lautoka and started heading down into Nadi again, towards Fantasy Island. The Mana Flyer owner confirmed that the boat was going back to pick up snorkel gear, which the owner himself was driving his car down from Lautoka to deliver. He arranged for the cop to meet him at the gate. Everyone was taking turns calling each other. The cop made it to the gate first and somehow Fletch, over on Beachcomber, had to be the middleman and tell him to please wait there for the owner to show up. The owner meanwhile was caught in a traffic jam in his car.

We made our way back down to the bar, needing to keep ourselves occupied with something. Whoever had the phone was sitting under the trees that line the road near the jetty. They probably stepped away to have a look at it, and were trying to figure out how to unlock it. Not many people in Fiji use iPhones, so I guess it is not common knowledge that they are impossible to unlock. This guy also didn’t realize that we could see the exact location of the phone. Any intelligent thief would have turned it off a long time ago.

The cop called back to say that he was at the jetty. He had gotten tired of waiting for the owner at the gate. Fletch asked him who was standing on the road by the jetty at that moment, and the cop said the captain and one of the crew were there. Fletch said one of them had his iPhone. Apparently they had gotten spooked and buried the phone, because when they moved, the phone’s location didn’t. We started playing the alarm sound on the phone while the cop went to have a look around. He heard it and dug it up. Another iPhone recovered.

The owner finally showed up and wouldn’t tell us who had stolen the phone, but that they had caught the guy and the situation was taken care of.

The gloomy little raincloud that had descended over our New Year celebrations lifted and we had all the more reason to celebrate. Sometimes I think that technology is getting too invasive and creepy. But sometimes that works out to a great advantage. I said this last time, and I’ll say it again, thank you Apple for a product that’s getting harder and harder to steal.

Read about the last two times we lost our iPhones: Dead Dog Day

Read about our previous New Year’s Eve on Beachcomber: Beachcomber Island - Happy New Year