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.


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.

Posted in Adventures | 17 Comments

Playing the Cruiser Waiting Game

Wether you spend a month waiting for a weather window in New Zealand, like many of our friends, or a month waiting in Tonga…it always seems like the next cruising season starts with delays. We have been back in the water since May 14th and had plans to spend a week getting the boat back in shape and provisioned, then take off for the southern island group of Hapaai before heading north to the Samoan islands. However, Palarran has had other plans. The first delay was waiting for some winch parts we had ordered over 2 months ago to arrive… apparently there was a mix up? We finally got the parts through customs….another tale all together…and got the winches up and running. Then toward the end of May we were getting ready to head out for a little shake down motor whenI notice water dripping from the raw water pump. CB took a look and realized the lip seal had dried out on us. Great….how were we going to find parts for a 33 year old Yanmar in Tonga!

We called around to the few mechanics and no luck…they advised trying the auto part store….yeah right. But sure as shit…the only automotive store in this part of Tonga had the exact water pump in stock…whaaat? Since a special press was needed to put it all back together, we had the shop fix the pump and were only out 200 TOP…or 100 US dollars…sweet!

The next day we provisioned with the assistance of my friends Tonga ride…thank you Julie Goss…and we were ready to go. The weather was good, the swell was low and the wind would actually allow us to sail south. CB went to shore to check out of the Port and we were all set to leave….NOT! As he was walking away from the dinghy he heard a loud pop followed by a rush of air…the faces of the two guys in front of him told him all was not well. As he turned around he observed a delapidated dinghy with a large hole in its side. Shiiiiit…I was on the boat stowing all our recently purchased food stuffs when I hear a dinghy approach…not my dinghy mind u. I look outside and there is CB in our friends dink…his face said it all.

Luckly one of the guys at The Boatyard, Alan, is a hypalon master and had the very special and expensive glue needed to fix a seam…unluckily, he was off to Hapaai (yep…where we wanted to go) for the next week….shiiiit! So, we borrowed a dinghy from a friend, again thank you Julie Goss, and headed out to the anchorages. We were unsure if our dinghy could actually be fixed and hemmed and hawed over what we would do…swimming to shore just isn’t a viable way to go. After a week we returned…this is now 3 weeks after we wanted to leave. That Monday morning the dude and his magic glue appeared and he WAS able to fix it…for how long…we know not…but it was holding air. Great….now we can go!

NOPE…the same high pressure system that was keeping everyone in New Zealand was creating crap weather here and we were stuck between the high and a low pressure system to the north. The swell was up to 9 feet with little timing inbetween, not to mention 30 knot winds and wind waves. We only had 60 miles to go…but it would have been awful. As we really have no schedule, we waited again.

Cool thing was, some friends of ours were hosting the guys from a Fox Sports fishing show called Stoked on Fishing who were filming for an episode or two on Tonga. We went and hung out in the anchorages with them and watched some very talented dudes fish and spear fish. They caught a ton of fish and we all had a blast partying on the giant catamaran and party platform.

It is now Wednesday and another weather window has appeared and in a few short hours we will leave to head south. All in all, when you are in a tropical paradise…having to stick around for an extra month is really no big deal!

Posted in Adventures, Big trips, Tawn | 2 Comments

2016 Presidential Election – A View From the Outside

This site is where we post about our travels around the world in our sailboat, and thus, kept far from the discussions of politics. However, since the political nature of the Presidential Election of 2016 has so unfortunately made it into my travel world, I thought maybe a view from the outside may be appropriate.

I am by nature, a non-political person. I want what most people want, equality and fairness for everyone in my country; and thus I vote accordingly. I was brought up in a Republican family with a devoutly Democratic grandmother, both of which influenced my values as well as my life experiences. It never helped to get involved in politics in my job nor my friendships….but I can only stay silent for so long when it comes to what is happening in America now. Sure, I laugh and “like” things on Facebook (odd how that has become so much part of our culture) with regards to politics, but I generally refrain from any outright sermons as I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum; and feel that is just plain rude anyway. But I feel that a view from the outside would benefit all Americans while making decisions in the 2016 election.

I have been absent from my country for the past three years, aside from a few visits home. I don’t earn an income or pay taxes anymore, nor do I partake in any benefits. During this time away, I have traveled by boat through fifteen nations. Unlike what you hear from people who only read stuff on the interwebs, we have always got a glorious welcome from all countries and fellow travelers from their respective countries. We fly our American flag tall and proud, just like anyone else, and have never had a negative remark from anyone. It is the popular response of travelers from the US who have back packed through Europe during the Bush administration, to say that people hate America…it is simply not true! I don’t know how many kayukas and dug out canoes full of people from obscure little islands have rowed up with their fist in the air sporting a big thumbs up stating in their best English “America, yes yes, Obama!”. It makes you very humble when you realize what an impact we have on the world.

I currently live in Vava’u, Tonga. A little island with a miniscule population of 15,000. But in those 15,000 people are Tongans, Samoans, Australians, New Zealanders, English, Germans, Belgians, Americans, Canadians and Swiss (and probably many more that I have left out). It makes for a very worldly discussion when out bar hopping….and I love it. But lately, all talk turns to the Americans with looks of bewilderment as to how we could have let this happen….by this, I mean Donald Trump. For the first time I have found myself defending my country and sometimes, gulp, even apologizing for making such a mockery of such an important election process.

Donald Trump craps on everything we have fought for and represent as Americans. He is a racist, a misogynist, a hate monger and a blowhard. No one should believe that he truly wants to “make America great again”; and I think it is pretty awesome right now! But forget all that, this is not a post about my political views, but of those from other countries who are influenced by everything we do.

I have a Swiss friend here who is an amazing person to have these discussions with. All he wants to know is how a country as great as ours, who have accomplished such an amazing amount of things in such a short amount of time, who have been through all the layers of racism, hate and corruption and come out on top….could ever believe that a man such as Donald Trump could lead with success. He is shocked that we would be entertaining such a buffoon, but also a man who wants to create a socialist republic or a woman who is so obviously corrupt her campaign is literally hiding in the media shadows of the idiocrity of an orange man who resembles a basketball with teeth. His reaction is like all others….shock, and a bit scared, because no matter who we elect, it will affect the world as well.

What to take from this is how the hell did these people get where they are, and what have we become as a country to allow them to get there. There are a lot of good people in politics that could have run a moderate “cleaner” campaign. But we have turned our great electorate process into a reality TV show.

We have made so many good steps in the extremely moderate Obama administration that it would be a shame to throw it all away. Sure, not everything he did worked out or was the best for the nation…but numbers don’t lie and I can’t think of a time where the stock market was higher, the jobless rate was lower or the general perception of the United States from foreign countries was stronger. We are a young country, we have made mistakes and wrong turns. But to let hate and fear take over a country that has made leaps and bounds to get rid of that type of behavior is just sad. Our Forefathers would be ashamed.

No matter what your political views are, this country was founded on a set of principles that talked about acceptance and forward thinking. Aside from the Native Americans, we are all immigrants…all taken in by this great land; it is what has made our country so strong. The current political climate in America is hostile, and that has to stop to become stronger.

You did not have to read this, but if you did, thank you. I hope you realize that when we vote, we not only represent our country, but a world view as well. As a country, we ARE better than Donald Trump. Speak out about our delegates, let people know you are unhappy, but please don’t grasp on to the most hopeless straw that is Donald Trump and his hate mongering speeches….WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT!

Posted in Adventures | 7 Comments

On the Hard, in Tonga.

Gonna slap a little sailing lexicon on ya.

When a person that owns a boat says their boat is “on the hard”, and they are not in tears. They typically mean the boat is in storage, out of the water and on dry land, usually in a boatyard somewhere.

Which, as it turns out is the exact situation we are in right now, and have been for the last 3 or 4 months.

We arrived here in Tonga on the 12th of October 2015. Spent a 6 weeks or so checking out the islands, beaches, reefs and anchorages around the Vava’u island group until the 2nd of December when we had to put the boat on the hard….*wink* and have been living in a shitty little apartment since.

You might be asking yourself, “why not just stay on your boat, on the hard”.

Answer: Cause it sucks.

So how does a boat go from this:

To this?*

Watch this informative video to find out.

By the way, if you ever find your self in Tonga and need a place to store your boat. Stop in and say hi to Joe and Alan at The BoatYard in Tonga. Great guys and they will totally take care of your boat.

*The keen eyed reader will note that the picture of Palarran at anchor was taken in Fatu Hiva, Marquesas. So technically, you would have to add a couple thousand miles of awesome downwind, open ocean sailing** into the mix before you get to the haulout in Tonga.

**And a couple hundred miles of butt clinchingly terrifying miles too. Sorry to any dudes out there trying to talk their wives into this doing this trip….it’s just part of the package. Crossing an ocean is NO SHIT for real. :)

Posted in Adventures | 1 Comment