The PAYS Mooring Field
Helping Others ...
To Help You ...
PAYS: A Lifetime of Rewards

What is the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services—or PAYS?

Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services, or PAYS, is a non-profit organization providing security, mooring and related services to yachts visiting Dominica. The focus of PAYS, to date, has been the conceptualization and realization of a mooring field allowing boats from around the world to safely "tie up" in Dominica allowing their crew to experience the unique beauty of Dominica.

Why is PAYS important?

Dominica (not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a small island (290 square miles and only 72,000 residents) located in the Caribbean between Guadeloupe and Martinique. Dominica has mountainous beauty and is largely covered by rain forest with many waterfalls, springs and rivers. Dominica is home to the world's second-largest hot spring, Boiling Lake, and exotic plants and animals.

Given the lack of sandy beaches and pleasure docks, few sailors have experienced the beauty of Dominica. The mooring field provides an environmentally friendly (no anchor dragging across the coral and ocean bottom) and safe way for captains and crew to experience Dominica.

The PAYS mooring field enables residents to cultivate tourism—diversifying their historically agricultural economy. With the mooring field, businesses including guided tours and locally-owned eating establishments can flourish creating a sustainable economic spark for Dominica. This is essential as Dominica currently has the lowest per capita GDP of the Eastern Caribbean.

When and how did PAYS start?

Hank Schmitt, long-time skipper and founder of Offshore Passage Opportunities, visited Dominica nearly eight years ago, and he fell in love with the island and the people. Eager to help, Hank and OPO Members raised $6,000 to purchase and send materials to a local resident, Albert Lawrence -- a father of three, to replace his wooden boat with a reliable fiberglass boat. Albert uses his boat to help visitors anchor and experience Dominica, and to fish for his family in the off-season.

Several years later, Hank and OPO Members launched a multi-year initiative to create a mooring field for 50 boats. Funds were raised to create the concrete moorings and to purchase lines, buoys and the supporting hardware. Albert and others oversee the security of the moored boats, while the organization charges a nominal $10 daily fee. The last piece of the puzzle was ordering and installing new buoys—and then Hurricanes Irma and Maria arrived.

What is the current status of PAYS?

PAYS was on its way to being an economic and sailing success. But, the hurricanes dictated a tack.

When Hurricane Maria slammed into the Island of Dominica, Hank and others quickly organized a first response helping friends in the Caribbean. A $6,000 donation to the International Relief Group paid for supplies and fuel for a big shipment via the British Tug, Flying Buzzard. In November, Hank loaded Avocation, his personal boat, with generators, tools, repair supplies and sailed to Dominica. He worked with the PAYS Team and helped deliver provisions and equipment to help rebuild the PAYS infrastructure.

Now we are tailoring our efforts to a specific goal of getting PAYS back up and running. This is an organization of local Dominicans who manage the mooring field in Portsmouth Harbor, provide safety, launch service and access to tour to the interior of the island. By encouraging more cruising sailors to visit, the entire town prospers.

Offshore Passage Opportunities began helping with the donation of the mooring field since 2015. While Maria slowed us down, we are still rushing 30 new mornings this winter to help save the season. Below is a photo of a PAYS buoy for the Dominica mooring field.


On the morning of Saturday, November 18th Hank Schmitt, President of Offshore Passage Opportunities,  met with a dozen members of PAYS in what was left of the PAYS pavilion just outside Plymouth on the island of Dominica. Hank promised continued help and outlined suggestions for how the Team could help themselves.

How does PAYS benefit me?

Your donation enables the unique opportunity to visit Dominica knowing that your boat will be safe and secure while you adventure on the island. Those who contribute $375 or more will receive lifetime use any time they visit, along with their name on a plaque at the PAYS Pavilion in Portsmouth. So, your donation builds a local business, helps people transform their lives and provides you with years of soulful sailing and exploration. Not only will your donation offer peace of mind, it will provide peace of heart.

What’s needed?

With the hurricanes, we are doubling the effort on the mooring field. We value any donation you can provide to help develop a resident-run, non-profit service that encourages more sailors to visit Dominica.

Where can I read more?

Enjoy the article below from the March, 2017 edition of Cruising World.

All About PAYS