October, 2018: The Mieco Beach Yacht Club began working on a mooring project for Enemanet and Eneko Islands in Majuro in 2006. Twelve years later the moorings are still well-maintained and used by yacht club members, thereby saving the precious reefs from anchor damage.

Back in the day, we created a powerpoint and showed it a text events and schools (now turned into the above mp4 video) and wrote an article on the project for the Seven Seas Cruising Assocaiton Bulletin, which is pasted below.

In 2013, my husband Cary and I won the Seven Seas Bateman Cruisng Station of the Year Award, of which we’re very proud. But much greater than that, we’re proud of all the work that a whole bunch of yacht club folk have done … and continue to do … to keep the mooring project afloat

Article for the Seven Seas Cruising Association

Moor is Better

By Karen Earnshaw, Majuro Cruising Station Host

The reefs of two popular tourist islands in Majuro, capital of the Marshall Islands, are soon to be saved from anchor and chain damage thanks to a mooring project being managed by the local Mieco Beach Yacht Club.

Moorings are hardly a new idea. Hey! Put a hefty weight in a large sandy spot, add some big ship chain, line and buoys and, ta-da, suddenly the reefs are safe.

But knowing how to solve the increasing degradation of the reefs was one thing … the question was how to fund and then implement such a project.

Then, in October, 2006, my husband Cary and I spotted an ad in the Marshall Islands Journal announcing a workshop on how to write grants for the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) Global Environment Facility (GEF). Perfect! So off we trotted to the day-and-a-half seminar and had our brains stuffed with great information and our thumb-drives packed with proposal guidelines.

GEF has a Small Grants Program, which is managed in Micronesia from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia.

Writing the Outline

The first step, which we completed in early December, was to write a three-page outline of our plan to install 10 ‘large’ and five ‘small’ moorings, including a budget (the latter came to about $47,000 in ‘real’ money and $35,000 in ‘in-kind’ (donated time and services). All of this would be managed by the incorporated yacht club, of which Cary and I are founding members, having first sailed into Majuro on our yacht Seal in 1998.

The Grants Program’s Majuro committee liked the overall plan, and gave us the go-ahead to write a ‘full’ proposal, but said that approval would rely on our including more local community involvement. This we did by including partnerships with a wider group of community, government, and private sector organizations and expanding our community and school awareness campaign. Key, as well, was getting landowners’ permission for the project, with the two families of Eneko and Enemanet Islands being fully supportive. These islands are just four or five miles from the main mooring fields of downtown Majuro.

Finally, we hit ‘send’ on the proposal and then sat back, fingers crossed.

On May 16, 2007, we received the following email: Greetings Vice Commodore Rodick, It is my honor to inform you … that your project proposal submitted to us has been fully approved. I am herewith attaching the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)… OKean Ehmes, GEF SGP/NZAID PEF Partnership, Micronesia (ROP,FSM,RMI).

The yacht club immediately created a sub-committee to exclusively handle the project. The club’s new Commodore, Liz Rodick, was made committee chair; Phil Marshall, a top-notch finance guy (and owner of the cruising yacht Bellatrix) was appointed Treasurer; I became Secretary; and Jerry McGraw off Po’Oino Roa became the fourth member. As Cary was to be project manager, it was decided he would not be on the committee.

One of the great aspects of this project is that we are recycling unwanted items from the shore and the lagoon to make the business end of the moorings. The donated weights are mainly counterweights from ‘dead’ forklifts and engine blocks, while much of the big ship chain was salvaged from wrecks.

As well, over the past year, dozens of visiting cruisers have scoured the oceanside beaches of the outer islands and brought home a valuable collection of solid plastic buoys. The shackles, line, and hose (to protect the pennant) were ordered off-island.

Of note is that now that the project is well underway, we expect to complete it well under budget.

To add a touch of fun to the project — and to give the moorings a sense of ‘ownership’ — it was decided that each of the buoys would bear the name of a Marshallese person with a special interest in protecting the reefs.

So, in March of this year, we ceremonially installed the first mooring ‘Candice,’ (for Candice Guavis who works at the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority) in 50 feet of water off Enemanet, with a class of college scuba divers watching the action.

Who Can Use the Moorings?

All the moorings will be free for yacht club members on a first-come, first-served basis, with no time limit imposed. Non-members pay $5 a day (NOTE: This is to continue to raise money to maintain the moorings).

In recent weeks, Cary has been gathering the remaining weights and these and the chain will be delivered to the islands using a boom truck on a big landing craft. We hope to have all the moorings installed by July or August, at which point we’ll have beach parties to celebrate.

But that won’t be the end of the project: The community awareness campaign will continue, a monitoring and maintenance program will be instituted … and the reefs of two small islands will breathe a huge sigh of relief.

* If anyone has any questions regarding the Mieco Beach Yacht Club Majuro Reef Protection Mooring Project, please email me at yachtseal @ hotmail.com.