I have just moved into Phase Two of my OPB Caribbean cruising season, of which more later, but wanted to share this last glimpse of the scene back in Prince Rupert’s Bay on Dominica. This occurring yesterday, as PAYS folk and various yacht people gathered on shore outside PAYS HQ to construct new mooring blocks, to witness said construction, and to enjoy a big pot-luck lunch together. This all being preceded by the inevitable island-time delay, as we waited around twiddling our thumbs for the cement-mixer guys to show up with their equipment, which did finally happen (see image up top), whereupon everything got rolling both figuratively and literally.
Hank’s deal with PAYS is that OPO provides all the lines, tackle, and mooring balls for the new mooring field in the bay, while PAYS builds the mooring blocks and actually sets the moorings. Each block weighs 2,000 pounds and is reinforced with rebar. Each also has a hollow PVC pipe set inside. These help the blocks settle into the ground once they are set. Much later, should the original attachment hardware corrode away, it will hopefully also be possible to pass some chain through the pipe to attach new hardware to keep a block in service.
An attachment staple is wired in place on the rebar frame
Once the staples and rebar are set in place, cement is poured into the wooden mold via wheelbarrow immediately after being mixed. The board spanning the top of the mold is there to help hold the big steel attachment staple upright while the cement is poured
The cement is constantly stirred and worked to ensure a consistent pour
A completed block waiting to set up hard, which I was told takes about two weeks. In the background you can see work has begun on another block. In all I believe three blocks were built yesterday
Once they are good to go the biggest challenge is setting the blocks with the limited technology available. PAYS doesn’t have a proper mooring barge, and its first version of a homemade mooring-setting raft unfortunately capsized when they tried to place a block on top of it. Version two, seen here, works the other way around, with the mooring block under the raft. First the block in placed in the water with a payloader, then the raft is fitted over it. The block is secured under the raft with a cable and pin. The raft is floated out into position, the pin is knocked out with a sledgehammer, and the block sinks to the bottom of the bay
Preparing some breadfruit to eat before our pot-luck lunch
Sailors and locals line up together to enjoy a fine array of comestibles
On Sunday the crew came back and finished filling all 7 molds for 7 more mooring. The goal is to have 30 to 35 in Portsmouth by next season and the rest of the 50 moorings in a couple of other locations.