Jan. 23, 2003 – Come spring, boaters using V.I. National Park waters off St. John will find two major changes. First, those who use a mooring overnight will be charged $15 to do so. Second, many bays will have volunteer live-aboard hosts on hand to greet those arriving and serve as the "eyes and ears" of the park staff.
Specific dates have not yet been set for the implementation of either program.
The mooring fee applies to anyone tying up between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. There is no fee for daytime use of the moorings.
All vessels 60 feet and under already are required to use park-installed moorings if they're available, rather than anchoring in bays. Vessels over 60 feet as well as those that can't find space on a mooring must anchor at least 200 feet from the nearest mooring. If, as is the case with smaller boats, anchoring out is unsuitable, they must go to another bay. Captains who must anchor instead of mooring overnight will not be assessed a fee.
Park officials soon will install easily identified collection safes at several or the more popular bays. Management assistant Beulah Dalmida-Smith said that a collection safe at Caneel Bay will cover Caneel, Salomon and Honeymoon Bays. One at Hawksnest Bay will be for that bay only.
One to be located on the beach at Maho Bay Campground will be for that bay, the adjacent Great Maho Bay and Francis Bay. One to be installed at Leinster Bay will be for people who moor in that bay, and one planned at Great Lameshur will be for that bay and the adjacent Little Lameshur Bay.
Dalmida-Smith said park fee-collection program staff and enforcement rangers will empty the collection safes once or twice a week. "The steel pipe safes are very strong" and are expected to deter thieves, she said.
The mooring fee will be in effect year 'round.
However, the bay host program will run only from November through July. Dalmida-Smith said no one will be on duty during the other three months because relatively few boats use park waters during the slow season, which also is hurricane season.
The volunteer hosts — similar to campground hosts at parks on the mainland — must sign on for a minimum of a month and can stay for a maximum of six months. They will be on duty from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday to help visitors, provide safe mooring and payment information, distribute brochures and general park information, give directions, maintain mooring records and monitor activities. "They'll be our eyes and ears," Dalmida-Smith said.
The bay hosts will live-aboards who have their own boats moored in the waters where they work and use their own dinghies to get to shore and back. They will get a free mooring at their assigned bay, free pump-outs at American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook on St. Thomas and free fuel for their dinghies. They will wear volunteer uniforms and fly a National Park Service flag from their vessels.
For those interested in becoming a bay host, an application form can be printed out from the National Park Service Volunteers in Parks Web site and then mailed off. To access it, click on "application." Printed forms are available at the park office in the Visitor Center at the Creek in Cruz Bay. For more information, call Dalmida-Smith at 776-6201, ext. 247.
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