The ‘Nature Island’ of Dominica will soon be even easier to visit by sea. A new mooring field in Portsmouth is almost 40% complete, and when finished in the next year, will offer over 100 moorings in Prince Rupert Bay for use by visiting cruisers.
“Portsmouth is the pilot project”, says Hubert Winston, president of the Dominica Marine Association and owner of the Dominica Marine Center, in Roseau. “That’s because Portsmouth has a nonprofit association, the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (PAYS), that can take care and monitor the moorings which is key in its sustainability. Cruisers will be handed a small brochure thanking them for using the mooring. These brochures will explain basic information about Portsmouth, things to do and see and businesses in the area.”
The new moorings are part of a plan by Dominica’s Ministry of Tourism to grow and develop the island’s yacht tourism sector. This goal continues in spite of devastating and costly damage caused when Tropical Storm Erika dumped a dozen inches of rain on the island in as many hours last August. Local and international funding agencies along with PAYS member contributions are paying for half of the Portsmouth moorings. The other fifty are being donated by members of the Huntington, NY-based crew network service, Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), with owner Hank Schmitt spearheading the project. Nearly 100 OPO members contributed to the purchase and shipping costs for 50 new anchors, mooring balls and the appropriate tackle. Along with the new moorings, Schmitt plans to experiment with four or five extra-strong screw-type anchors on the moorings to see how they hold up to waves and storm surge. Tourism and Schmitt partnered for ‘Yachtie Appreciation Week’, held February 14th to 21st, which commemorated the completion of the first phase of moorings installations.
“The Dominica Marine Association along with the Scott’s Head Soufriere Marine Reserve are looking into erecting moorings in the Soufriere and Scotts Head Bay area within the Marine Park. This would be for vessels that would respect the laws of the Park and be willing to pay a premium to be in the best ecological site in the Caribbean. These moorings would be on a first-of-its-kind booking system such as you would book a hotel room. In the first instance there would be ten, and at most 15 to 20,” says Winston.
Dominica, nicknamed Nature Island for its lush natural beauty, has no marinas. Yet this 290-square mile island located south of Guadeloupe and north of Martinique, has much to offer including dive sites consistently rated among the top ten in the world and over a dozen scenic hiking trails.
Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.