Remi the bartender was on to something. I walked up to the counter, hot and thirsty after rowing over to the hotel in the glaring mid~afternoon sun. I had changed in the palm shadows -out of my sweat and into fresh cottons -but I still cooked on the inside.
"Here you are Uncle Charlie," he offered, "a double Savuti and soda."
The strikening was instant - we looked at each other, and so did everyone else in the room.
Remi had taken us back to a place of deep remembrances: SAVUTI POINT. It is at the tip of our island ~ a lonely, thought provoking place of rather sad beauty -and he had just named a drink after it: two generous measures of fine whiskey, two lumps of ice and enough soda to double the size.
Savuti Point will turn anyone's thoughts wayward - to a venturesome, vagabond place of the mind. This is how we were inspired for the name of our press, but more on that later...
Savuti is a spit of land where the tides converge beneath swaying, decrepit palms. It is wild and unkempt, and old Jack Savuti had a house there in the style of the colonial sugar planters cottages. Originally built in Suva, the house was taken apart and moved to Navutu, near Lalitoka, and then in nineteen fifty-one his determined sister Lucy had it dragged across the sea, piece by piece (though somewhat willingly) to the island where it lived out its days in graceful neglect.
Just as a weary old travel trunk bears the stamps of all its destinations, so do books and stories tell of the adventures, and bear the scuff marks ' of our lives.
I remember taking a bottle of whiskey to J ack, many years ago. He grinned at me toothlessly, took the cap off the bottle, crushed it between his fingers and threw it away. I would be there all evening, it seemed.
Under the grubby table there was a mark on the wall. The bleached weatherboards bore the stamp PORT OF VANCOUVER. Fine old Oregon Pine and Western Cedar, transported to the little Colonies from the Dominion of Canada could even outlast a century of tropical swelter.
But they're all long gone now -Jack, Lucy, the house -and when we stand on that dignified spot, all we have left are rather grand memories, and the desire to make new ones with this place in mind...
* * *
The Savuti Press had its beginnings back in Vancouver in the halcyon summer days of two thousand and nine -the warmest, longest summer in living memory. Waisiki built a verandah on the back of the cottage, and we began the happy pursuits of writing, paper marbling, book design, and above all, thinking and drinking.
We wish to tackle some grand themes, and some esoteric ones, too. Some books are planned just for the fun of it. We would like to put out a book each year, but we'll see how that goes.
The texts are already written for six pieces including a rather ripping ghostly yarn set in colonial Fiji, also an ode to the wisdom
and forebearance of owls entitled FULL MOON EYES. The idea of "self published memoirs" is a horrifying thought, and with this in mind we would like to try our hand at cobbling together some reminiscences from the nearly forgotten early years of south sea island life. You have been warned.
Savuti Press is the private press of Charles van Sandwyk and Waisiki Doughty. We began this venture with the hopes of printing our artistic endeavours and philosophical wanderings on exquisite papers, and in small editions.
Like the spit of land the press is named for, this is where our cultural tides converge, and where we mix the familiar with the new.
If you would like to be on our subscription list, or are interested in learning more about our publications, please contact us:
c/ o Charles van Sandwyk
Post Office Box 30033
North Vancouver, British Columbia