Yachts up to 100 feet can now moor in Virgin Islands National Park waters.
In December, officials installed 14 “big boat” moorings in the seas surrounding St. John to accommodate yachts measuring from 61 to 100 feet. This undertaking completes a decade-plus $750,000 mooring program funded by the non-profit Friends of the V.I. National Park that has overseen placement of more than 300 moorings in the park and in the V.I. Coral Reef National Monument waters in an effort to protect seagrass beds.
Previously, boat moorings in the park and monument were rated for vessels up to 60 feet.
“We saw a big gap for boats larger than 60 feet,” Friends President Joe Kessler said. “Security is utmost for the park, and due to the nature of the open water and wind conditions in the bays where the moorings were installed, the moorings themselves have been comprehensively designed and held to a high specification.”
The mooring system uses twin helical anchors and a custom beam that carries the load along a horizontal plane and connects nylon line to a surface mooring. Minimum breaking strength of the new “big boat” moorings is 32,000 pounds.
Four of the moorings each were placed off Lind Point and Francis Bay, two each in Leinster Bay and Great Lameshur Bay, and one each in Hawksnest Bay and the southeast entrance of Princess Bay in the monument area.
The moorings are for day or overnight use. There is a $15 fee per night. Usage regulations for these moorings are the same as apply to all others and can be found at the National Park Service Web site (www.nps.gov/viis/planyourvisit/boater-information.htm). The new mooring in the monument area is day-use only and free of charge.
Private yachts from 100 to 125 feet can anchor seaward of the large boat moorings off Lind Point, while those 125 to 210 feet can anchor west of the line between Mary’s Point and America Hill in Frances Bay. Anchoring is not permitted in the monument.
Positive effects of the mooring program have been quick to see, Kessler said.
“In 12 to 13 years, we’ve seen the re-growth of a rich carpet of seagrass and, as a result, a significant increase in the sea turtle population.”