Yes, I shamelessly wrote Boatyball in the title to get your attention. I know it’s a subject that can get people fired up! Even though there are in fact new USVI Boatyball moorings, that’s not the real story here.
I’ve been a close participant in the charter industry for some time, and let me tell you – change is upon the US Virgin Islands USVIs. The recent buzz? A Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA) led project to install 200 new moorings outside of the National Park.
Now, for those unfamiliar with the backstory: the 2017 hurricanes or Irma and Maria devastated the USVIs’ boating infrastructure. Of the 77 moorings that once existed, only about 25 remained after the storms.
Fast forward to now, and the territory is undergoing a maritime transformation with the addition of these new moorings – half of which, according to a recent press release, are already in place. These moorings span several locations, from St. Thomas’s Magens Bay to Frederiksted in St. Croix, and many points in between.
Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has thrown his weight behind this project, viewing it as a boon for the boating and charter community. And while I’m not one to take sides from afar, this is a great move. Especially when you consider the potential reduction in coral reef and sea grass damage resulting from anchoring.
Now, let’s talk Boatyball – that’s what you’re really here for, right? For some, its digital reservation platform represents convenience. For others, it is seen as a monopolization of limited mooring areas in popular BVI anchorages. And while I’m not diving into that debate today, Boatyball’s payment system has helped facilitate this USVI program as a low-cost solution.
There is no reservation component to the new USVI Boatyball moorings – unlike most of the BVI moorings. VIPCA established it as an honor system. All moorings are first come first serve, with the overnight balls costing $35/night. Day-use moorings are accepted as donations only ($10 requested).
The existing Boatyball platform also has a system of self-reporting issues with the moorings that will allow timely repairs and maintenance of the moorings based on real-time reporting.
The project has a fair share of backers. With substantial funding from the U.S. Economic Development Authority and support from the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands, it’s evident that many see this as a move in the right direction. Other industry insiders view this as a huge, positive step.
At first glance, Boatyball’s US Virgin Islands entrance might be controversial for some. But, from where I stand, it is a massive development for the USVI charter industry. I first chartered the USVIs last year, and I was blown away. There are a lot of things to like, and we definitely plan to return and discover more.
Logistics are much simpler flying direct into STT. The anchorages are spectacular, particularly Magens Bay and the National Park. I also look forward to an epic sail south to St. Croix when the weather cooperates (it didn’t last time!).
There is so much left to explore in the US Virgin Islands, and these new VIPCA-led and Boatyball-powered moorings will help crews find places hidden right under their noses for all these years.
You can find the latest information about the USVI Boatyball moorings on the VIPCA website.