Hurricane Maria was devastating
Lives in Dominica are up-ended
People need food, water and shelter
A mooring field will rebuild lives in Dominica

Rebuild Lives and a Mooring Field in Portsmouth, Dominica

The island, people and economy of Dominica have been ravaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Without your help, our friends and the Island of Dominica will take decades to recover -- if at all.

We are asking those who are in a position to help to contribute to the relief and Mooring Field effort. This will help those who live in Portsmouth to have reliable access to water, food and electricity -- the basic essentials of life. And once they are back on their feet, we will complete the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Services (or PAYS) Mooring Field enabling sailors to visit Dominica and spur the local economy. Without the  PAYS Mooring Field and visitors, the hardship in Dominica will be fierce and sustained.

Dominica is an unspoiled Caribbean island with lush forests, breath-taking scenery, wonderful people and beautiful blue cruising waters. For those who sail, it's majestic and a wonderful winter "home."

In fact as sailors, Portsmouth has been our winter home for more than a decade.

Dedicated to Dominica, we have been helping Portsmouth construct a Mooring Field to welcome sailors from around the globe. And since the hurricanes, our OPO Members have raised more than $15,000 to help rebuild lives in Dominica.

But completing the PAYS Mooring Field is essential to rebuilding lives and the economy of Dominica and Portsmouth. The residents desperately need our help to rebuild their lives and the local economy.

Will you please help?

We are Conscientious Stewards of Donations

All donations are carefully managed and the distribution of funds is diligently recorded. See how we have managed our past donations and how they made a measurable impact for those in Dominica and St. Maarten.

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

Fundraising Report
How you helped others
Thank you
Your donations make a difference

Fundraiser Report

Now that I have returned from our first trip to St. Maarten and Dominica after the devastating hurricanes, I want to report how much we have raised and where the money has been spent -- as promised.

To date we have raised $32,825.00 from 140 donors and spent $24.144.73. That leaves a balance of $8,680.27 earmarked for specific activities.

We wish to extend a special thanks to those who donated money, time and support. Thank you.

Use of Funds

We released the first funds of $6,000 in early October before the Annapolis Boat Show. We saw the opportunity and need to deliver the first two shipments of emergency relief supplies of food and water to Dominica within the first few days after Maria. We supplied money for fuel and supplies to immediately arrive in Dominica.

Within the first few days after the storm, we made our second disbursement of $2,000 in Moneygrams to PAYS and Albert. It is amazing how the Internet can be down, but you can still send money from a CVS to Portsmouth Dominica.

The third disbursement allowed us to send skipper Johnathan Ishmael to St. Maarten on the first commercial flight to the island on Tuesday, October 17, for a five-day fact-finding mission and to distribute cash.

Our next initiative was purchasing generators, power tools and building supplies in the United States, and buying more supplies in St. Maarten (food and water and two more generators) to bring to Dominica aboard Avocation. During that visit from November 16 to 18, we met with members of PAYS, saw Albert and hired a general contractor to rebuild the PAYS Pavilion.

We also started a micro-loan PAYS Credit Union to help some of the Boat Boys get their boats ready for the season. We also distributed some cash to hold folks over until the season gets going.

The balance of the money was used to order the last 30 mooring floats for a total of 50 rigged moorings this season. We only need to raise a small amount of money to finish the project. I will have exact numbers in the next few days as we price out the shipping costs to Miami and then on to Dominica.

Detailed Disbursements

Fuel and Supplies for Flying Buzzard St. Lucia to Roseau Dominica $2,500.00
Fuel and Supplies for Flying Cloud to Portsmouth$2,500.00
Clothes for Odessa$265.60
$1,000 Credit Card: Food for Portsmouth in Martinique Money Gram to Jeff Frank PAYS$1,000.00
Moneygram #1$509.99
Moneygram #2$510.99
Moneygram #3$511.99
Amazon: tarps, solar lights, luci lights $1,125.53
Hammers, rakes etc. $93.47
Moneygram # 4$512.99
Harbor Feight: Tools$413.67
Home Depot: Building Supplies$702.49
Harbor Freight: Generators$1,260.62
10/10/17 - 10/12/17
Johnathan’s trip to St. Maarten$3,616.42
Cash distributed in St. Maarten (See list of recipients)$735.00
Money spent in St. Maarten for generators and food for Dominica$3,175.97
11/16/17 - 11/17/17
Cash distributed in Dominica (list includes Boat Boy: $900; Credit Union Fund: $1,000; School: $300; Max: $100; Special: $910)$3,210.00
Cash to contractor to repair PAYS roof$1,500.00

Holiday Donation
It's the holidays
Please help those in need
Your donations are invaluable

Christmas Donations Needed

There is still an urgent need to help our friends and partners in St. Maarten and Dominica. In addition to the rebuilding St. Maarten, there are marina employees, day-workers, and waitresses at Jimbo's that need our help. In Dominica we expect that $5,000 will complete the mooring field and help with the promotion of Yachtie Appreciation Week.

We are still seeking volunteers to help sail boats to deliver supplies to the islands. It's a great opportunity to help others while expanding your bluewater sailing resume. If you would like to act as relief crew, please click here.

The Ultimate Holiday Gift

If you had a good year, are feeling grateful for having a roof over your head, being safe with loved ones and can't sail to the islands now, then please make a Christmas donation. Our efforts in St. Maarten and Dominica are not bottomless. We are seeing the results. We invite everyone to come down and see for yourselves. If not this year, then in years to come.

Your Christmas donations will be carefully put to use in January, 2018 in St. Maarten and in February, 2018 in Dominica. We will provide you with a final report in March when we return from Dominica and St. Maarten.

Thank you and we wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.

  • Help St. Maarten

    St. Maarten is our winter home and many locals have become personal friends. They have lost their homes and their jobs. Please help them get back on their feet.

    Current Donations: $20,450.00

  • Help Dominica

    Dominica was ravaged by hurricanes and our friends need assistance. Help us complete the Mooring Field so we have a great place to visit and our friends have jobs.

    Current Donations: $24,025.00