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HomeLifeHelix-Moorings Installation in U.S. Virgin Islands: A Step Towards Sustainable Marine Infrastructure

Helix-Moorings Installation in U.S. Virgin Islands: A Step Towards Sustainable Marine Infrastructure

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The herald of a sustainable marine era is here with the completion of the first phase in the installation of 200 new secure Helix-type moorings across various bays in the U.S. Virgin Islands. This installation is now open for use by both local and visiting boaters, inclusive of private/recreational and commercial entities, set to be fully operational in the upcoming season. Discover the moorings locations live at boater.boatyball.com/map. This endeavor marks a fruitful private-public partnership between the non-profit Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) and the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Boosting Marine Infrastructure and Employment Opportunities

Governor Albert Bryan expressed his gratitude towards the collaborative forces of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR), the Office of the Governor, and VIPCA. This project, fueled by a federal Economic Development Authority (USEDA) grant of $562,000 and supported by DPNR’s regulatory guidance, aims to invigorate the marine industry, create job openings through moorings maintenance, and ensure the protection of the territory’s underwater environment.

A catamaran moored to a new Helix-type mooring ball in a picturesque harbor off of St. Thomas.
Embracing Tranquility: A catamaran nestled against the new Helix-type mooring system in the serene harbor off of St. Thomas. Credit-Steve-McCauley

Mooring Details and Usage Guidelines

Any marine vessel ranging from 1ft to 65ft, whether private/recreational or commercial, local or visiting, can utilize these moorings for up to 14 days. Blue-banded moorings cater to overnight stays at a fee of $35 per night, available online at BoatyBall. Whereas, yellow-banded moorings are designated for day-use at a donation of $10 per use, also payable online at BoatyBall. The generated fees are channeled towards third-party liability insurance and year-round maintenance of these moorings.

Community Support and Environment Preservation

The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) has generously extended grants totaling $175,000 to support this territorial-wide marine moorings project. This includes a $100,000 grant from the Fund for the Virgin Islands and a $75,000 grant for St. John moorings from the Friends and Family Fund for USVI Renewal.

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Impact on Marine Ecology

VIPCA Executive Director, Oriel Blake, underscores the monumental benefits of this project. Unlike conventional anchoring that could potentially damage centuries-old corals, the Helix-shaped moorings only disrupt a 2-to-3-inch area on the seafloor. Additionally, the floatation buoy eliminates the destructive actions of lengthy anchor chains, preserving soft corals, seagrass, and the habitat of endangered sea turtles.

Partnerships and Future Aspirations

BoatyBall’s co-founder and CEO, Bob Wall, expresses pride in partnering with VIPCA to provide a simplified payment solution for boaters seeking maintained and insured moorings in the USVI. Through this partnership, a safer and environmentally-friendly mooring alternative to anchoring is now available to the boating community.

For further details about VIPCA and its programs, visit www.VIPCA.org, Email: info@vipca.org, or call (340) 642-0656.

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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