Should you want to start a hot debate among cruisers, mention mooring balls. Many of the purists loath the things while others like us are rather ambivalent about them. The complaints about mooring balls are not unfounded and go beyond just not wanting to pay for a parking spot.
Often when mooring balls are introduced, anchoring is then prohibited. Sometimes there are restrictions on the size of boats due to the distance between the balls or the weight bearing capacity that precludes us from using a ball (Annapolis, MD). In other places (Georgetown, SC) the harbor is littered with derelict boats attached to the free moorings.
Example of a good mooring system
Many of the purists will tell you that they trust their anchor more than a mooring ball. I must admit that I am more inclined to dive to check a mooring system than I am to dive on our anchor. We have found poorly maintained mooring gear that has prompted us to move to another ball. And, we have friends that reported moorings parting, usually at 3:00 AM in a good blow.
Conversely, the scars left by anchors and anchor chains on the bottom cannot be ignored. The sea grass, coral, and sponge formations supports the small fish that feed the larger fish that many of the islanders catch to support their families. Grand Anse d’Arlet and Petite Anse d’Arlet, Martinique is in the process of installing moorings.
Snorkeling off the back of our boat we could already see the difference the moorings were making in the recovery of the sea bed.
Enjoying the sea life (plus cheap wine and cheese in Martinique) is why we come to the Caribbean.
French couple attaching B-24 to our mooring
Hopefully, these moorings will be a success story. The introduction of the moorings will enhance the sea life. The moorings will be well maintained, and the charge for their use will be kept reasonable.