Before arriving in the British Virgin Islands, we had read up on fees and procedures on Noonsite.com, in The Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands , and elsewhere. Everything mentions an additional BVI National Parks Trust Marine Parks Mooring Permit that you need in order to use the moorings in the BVI marine parks. These moorings are day-use only, but put you right on some of the best dive and snorkeling spots in the BVI. The annual fee for foreign vessels is $150. According to various sources, you can purchase the pass when you check into the country. This is all only partially true, as we found out.
When we checked in at Jost Van Dyke, I asked about the BVI National Parks Trust Marine Parks Mooring Permit. The customs officer told me that she could issue one-week passes, but we would need to go to Road Town to get the annual permit. The one-week pass is fifty dollars, so an annual permit seemed like a no-brainer; knowing we were not going to be using the NPT moorings immediately, I figured we would wait until we were in Road Town to get the permit.
Yesterday, I finally made it over to Road Town, in part to get the BVI National Parks Trust Marine Parks Mooring Permit. The first thing I learned was that it is not Customs in Road Town that issues the permit, but, instead, the BVI National Parks Trust office. The only problem was that nobody knew where the office was. I traipsed back and forth across Road Town for a couple hours, asking people – both officials and, literally, the average man on the street – where the National Parks Trust office was and kept getting wildly different, always sketchy directions from folks who wanted to be helpful. Finally, a woman who was coming off work with the Department of Youth Affairs and Sport called a colleague of hers who gave my first clear location of the day: the NPT office is on the second floor of a building across the street from the Scotia Bank. And, sure enough, that is exactly where it is in temporary digs since Hurricane Irma.
At the office, a woman at the front counter quickly took care of me once I turned over Bear’s USCG documentation (only official documentation or registration will do). I was even able to pay the annual fee with credit card. With a big, official-looking NPT mooring permit sticker and the actual BVI National Parks Trust Marine Parks Mooring Permit, which is the document that you need to be able to show to marine wardens should you be asked, we are now set to legally use the NPT moorings.