We were in Bora Bora for number of weeks last month, and encountered the enforcement of mooring ball payments. We were rather suspect of the whole thing, since it was executed in a totally chaotic and not very official-seeming way. What's going on there with these fee-collectors (Francis?) may actually be legit, but their approach hardly lends any credence to that.
Our experience over a number of weeks was that two guys in a large RIB
pull up to the boat
, failing to show any identification or official documentation
of their positions or responsibilities, seem to make up prices (2000 per day? 10000 for a week? 5000 for three days?), make claims about owning/managing "all" the mooring balls in Bora Bora but then denying ownership/responsibility of the one mooring ball that snapped off while we were tied to it (sending us drifting though the Yacht Club mooring field in the middle of the night), and when pressed for some sort of business and/or insurance documentation
hem and haw and eventually show a monsterous 6-7 page long boilerplate long-term mooring leasing contract
in French but never producing any proof of insurance
for eventualities like mooring balls snapping in the middle of the night. While Francis(?)(sketchily) tries to charm/cajole sailors into coughing up whatever fees
he's decided to present to them, a colleague (pretends to?) write down the boat
details, but somehow the next time they show up, never remember who you are or have any record
of previous interactions.
It is also important to note that many of the mooring balls clearly belong to other organizations, like the Tahiti
Yacht Club, but Francis (?) seems to be willing to collect his fees
for use of those balls as well. In fact, while we were there, he managed to collect a few weeks worth of fees from a Swiss vessel that was *anchored* (i.e. not on any mooring ball) near the Yacht Club.
We never ended up paying him anything, because the whole affair seemed just a bit too shady. We prefer to err on the side of not supporting criminality, in the case that the situation isn't clear.
If this fee collection is indeed sanctioned and legit, I would recommend to whomever is responsible for this to provide Francis and his boat with some official identification; set up a website detailing the fees, terms of the mooring agreement, any relevant rules and/or laws, and the contact info of the relevant authorities as well as whoever runs the mooring ball managing organization/company, in both English
and French, at least; and paint
the URL on the mooring balls (the domain bbms.pf is available, and only two letters longer than what is already on Bora Bora Marine
Service's mooring balls). With this, sailors can be fully informed of their obligations and be ready to comfortably comply with the applicable laws and rules governing anchoring and mooring in Bora Bora.
I think it is safe to say that cruisers are a law-abiding bunch, and more than happy to pay for the resources they use. Conversely, I think there are very few cruisers who are comfortable supporting fraud, so if Francis and Bora Bora Marine
Services want to get the happy cooperation of Bora Bora's cruisers, then they need to do much better with their corporate communications
, and not present themselves in the current
manner, which is most reasonably interpreted as an illegal shakedown by fraudulent grifters.