Drone Footage from Mele Bay, Vanuatu.

Edited and uploaded some drone footage we took while we were anchored off Mele Beach in Vanuatu.

We are finally out of the boatyard and back in the water. Spent a few days on a mooring ball in Port Vila, restocking the boat and putting her back together.

We are gonna hang out here in Mele for a couple days, then start working our way north through Vanuatu’s islands on our way up to the Solomon Islands.

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An update to the website….can you believe it?

Other than this sentence, I will not address just how long it has been since our last website update. Which was in October of 2016. I mostly blame Tawn.

Enough of that, on to the update.

It’s a quick one.

I got a new drone on my last trip back to the States. Fly it is fairly easy, getting good/cool looking footage is gonna take some practice as you will see in the video below.

We are currently in the Port Vila Boatyard in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Google it. Hopefully will be back in the water in the next day or two.

Here is the drone footage. Also, I need to get better at editing video.

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Some video of a pleasant hike to the beach.

We took this video last year while we are on the island of Niue.

Niue is here:

Yeah, I know it don’t fit. Whatever. Zoom out….get a feel for just how deep in the middle of nowhere that island is.

Anyway….Watch this movie:

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Trevor Meredith, the owner/operator of Apia Marina in Apia Samoa can eat a bag of dicks.

I know, I know. We have not posted a blog post in a month or so.

What is it that made me want to post now? Was it yet another idyllic sunset, or miles long deserted white sand beach or whales and dolphins frolicing on the bow of our boat as we glide downwind to the next island paradise?….Nope…sorry, it’s irritation, nay….RED RAGE! I had a run in with a local marina owner here in Apia, Samoa.

The title of this post probably gives you some idea of where my rage is coming from or directed at.

The main reason for this post is informational. In hopes that any other Yachties thinking of going to Apia, Samoa have a heads up about Trevor Meredith and his ways. And by extension to screw him out of even more money because he is a dickhead that pissed me off.

The story!

We left Pago Pago, American Samoa after spending an awesome two weeks there. Had a blast. And the people of Samoa and Apia Samoa are completely awesome and ridiculously friendly and welcoming….But not Trevor….Trevor is a bit of a thief.

After an easy overnight sail, we arrived on Sunday Morning July 31st, 2016. We called Port Control on VHF CH16, but never received an answer. Since we could see it was clear to enter, we proceeded in and dropped anchor in the charted small boat anchorage just off the marina entrance with three other boats already there. Great anchorage, great holding. Twenty feet of water in sand and mud. As it was Sunday we knew Customs and all the official offices would be closed, so we just chilled on the boat the rest of the day.

Monday morning we got a call on CH16 to come into the marina to begin the check in process. We thought it was Port Control.

We dinghied in and were met by a marina employee who told us that we should bring Palarran in. We told him we had no need of the marina’s services and were happy at anchor. He said Port Control did not allow anchoring unless the marina did not have enough room, or if you drew more than 2.5 meters. That it was the law.

Hrrrmmmmmmm?? We had heard these rumors before we left Pago Pago, and researched online to find out if this was in fact the law here.

We disagreed with him and told him that we had issues with our cutlass bearing and transmission when going in reverse. So we would rather not have to maneuver in tight quarters until we haul out in Fiji next month to fix the issue. He said that since we were not staying at the marina, we had to contact Port Control ourselves to handle getting Health, Quarantine, And Customs to come down and check us in to the country.

Oooookaaaay.

We headed back out to the boat and called Port Control. Not a problem they said. They would arrange it as soon as they could.

Three hours pass. We decided we could not wait any longer since it was getting past noon and we did not want to be stuck on the boat another day. I looked up the phone number for the Ministry of Health online and called them. They were a bit surprised, but said, not to worry they would send someone down right away. In fact, the guy was down at the docks right now, but busy with a commercial boat at the moment.

An hour and a half later we called again. He sounded surprised to hear from me. He said the guy had gone to the marina, but was sent away? We said we had not heard from anyone at all. He put me on hold for a second, then said the inspector would be there in two minutes. And for us to meet him at the docks.

We met the Health inspector and took him out to our boat and the two other boats in the anchorage. Inspection done, Q flags down, back to the marina to find customs, then on to immigration downtown. All very painless and easy.

The next day we went into the marina office to pay the advertised $50 Tala ($20usd) weekly fee for the use of the dinghy dock.

This is when the trouble began.

The marina employee said the fee was now,….as of today $200 tala($100 usd) a week for use of the dinghy dock!!

The employee looked sheepish and shrugged. He also apologized for being so rude to us the day we had arrived, he was just acting on orders from his boss. We understood. We also told him we understood this was a penalty price for us for not using the marina. We thanked him (all smiles) said we would just use the beach and left the office.

The next afternoon we went into the marina with some friends to go to dinner and have a bunch of beers. On the dock we were approached by a guy who asked if we had paid our dinghy fees yet. I said that we had tried, but the fees had gone up 400% overnight and we wanted find out for sure if this was true before we paid anything.

Dude absolutely popped his cork and threatened to steal/damage our dinghy if he ever saw it in the marina again, then stomped off after a bunch more yelling. By both him and me. :) I’m not completely innocent in all of this.

At first we all looked at each other like….WTF mate?? Then one of our friends had the presence of mind to ask who he was as he stormed away. Turns out this was Trevor Meredith, the owner/operator of Apia Marina. We caught up with him on the ramp and argued for a bit about the legality of his business methods, I ask him to show me the rules/regulations that proved that it was in fact illegal to anchor out. Because, if so….despite me being an asshole, I would of course follow the actual laws of the country I was visiting. He could not come up with anything, at all, nothing. I was even allowing him the use of my phone to look that shit up. He could only say that that was the law and we did not know Samoan law. We kept calling bullshit and he kept spewing it.

Homeboy is just running a scam and the Port Control seems to either not care or is in on it. Most Yachties will fold when confronted with these sorts of situations, and Trevor knows it. You are, after all, in a foreign country and most time are not sure of the rules. We just were not having it this time around. He did sorta calmed down a bit, and we were able to talk to him a little more rationally, but he still stood his ground where his scam was concerned.

Two days later we were walking down the sidewalk along the harbor in town and saw a strange boat tied alongside our boat out in the anchorage. We could tell it was the marina’s runabout. They left before we got back. But they did come back out once we got back on the boat. They wanted to give us an envelope with some paperwork in it from what seemed to be a lawyer. Not sure why? But we declined it and they left.

And by declined, I mean I laughed like I thought they were all very retarded and tossed the envelope, unopened back into their boat.

We decided to pay a visit to the Ministry of Tourism and filed a complaint against Trevor and the Apia Marina. They were most surprised and distressed to hear this and really took the complaint to heart.

After a week of checking out Samoa, we were growing tired of the harassment from the marina. The weather looked good for the 5 day crossing to Fiji, So we headed to immigration to check out of the country and get our passports stamped with our exit visas. The immigration official told us they could not allow us to leave and would not stamp our passport. We were surprised and they had us talk to a supervisor. He showed us some paperwork that was from a law firm(Kruse, Enari, & Barlow) , issued by the Supreme Court of Samoa, it was a Departure Prevention Order (DPO).

Yeah, you read that right. The dude that is leasing the marina from the Samoan Port Authority somehow has enough juice to hold people hostage till he gets his money.

We were not really sure what exactly to do, but thought, maybe the American Embassy could help out a bit.

At the embassy we talked to two very nice people. They made calls and went with us to the Port Authorities office and we had our above mentioned meeting. And while they were awesome, very helpful and more than accommodating. The bottom line was, the port captain decided that if we paid them the $100USD fee (with no real proof or reason) and $50 Tala bribe to Trevor, the owner/operator of the Apia Marina, the DPO against us would be lifted and we would be free to leave the country.

The next day we got up bright and early to start the bribe paying and clearing out process. First stop, the Port Authority. We went to pay the mythical $100USD fee. However, they had decided overnight it was now $247 Tala. I blew up. They backed down and we paid them $200. Then we went to the marina to pay Trevor his $50 Tala. Trevor saw us coming and jumped into his truck and ran. Left his employee to do his dirty work.

Next stop, immigration. However, they still would not stamp us out. They did not have any paperwork yet. We went back down to the Ministry of Tourism and the CEO there made a few, very angry phone calls and said it was all cleared up and we were to go back up to immigration and clear out. An hour later, they got an email from the marina’s lawyer, but would not accept it. It had to be a letter from the judge that issued the DPO.

So we waited in immigration for 4 more hours. 15 minutes before they closed, the paperwork showed up.

Customs was closing in 30 minutes, so I jumped in a taxi to deal with that.

Tawn went back down to Tourism office to let them know it was all done. The CEO was shocked we were still there. Could not believe this was actually happening.

As all this was going on, we had two British friends having almost the same issue with the marina, minus the DPO. They had their own meeting with their consulate/Embassy and the CEO of the SPA were able to get an official cost of anchoring. According to the documentation the cost for their 38 foot sailboat was $5.60 Tala.

Ours ended up being $7.10 Tala, due to being a heavier boat. At the last second, they tacked on $110 Tala fee for lights and buoys.

Despite the fact that we had the American Embassy involved and the CEO from the Ministry of Tourism in the meeting. The SPA would not refund the difference back to us. The CEO of Tourism actually cut us a check for the difference! She was very, very upset about the whole affair.

Bottom line, this Trevor guy is a scam artist and not to be trusted, unless you give him want he wants, which is your money.

The Port Authority after all of this tells us that we were free to us their dinghy dock, showers and toilets which are accessible inside the breakwall where the tugs are moored. Why they did not mention this on day one is annoying.

We spent over a year and a half in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador. No bribes(none that were not expected at least) and no need for a trip to the American Embassy in order to get out of the country. Who saw that coming? Western Samoa…more corrupt than Central America! HUH? American Samoa was chill as hell. Completely opposite of what we expected.

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