The Willy T
Norman Island, BVI
One of the places not to miss while visiting the British Virgin Islands is Norman Island, located just to the South of Tortola. On Norman Island in the harbour called the "Bight", is the Willie "T", virtually a floating restaurant and bar. The naming of the Willie T has a bit of unique history about it.
The Willie T is short for William Thornton, born on Jost Van Dyke, just to the South of Tortola, in 1759, schooled in Scotland to be a physician, but rarely practiced. His love was to be an architect, which he was self-taught. Dr. Thornton was chosen to design the Capitol building in Washington D.C., with the approval from George Washington. For his services, Dr. Thornton was awarded $500 and a lot in the Capitol City.
The history of the floating restaurant and bar started in 1989 when the Willie T made its way into Norman Island, and set anchor. That was the beginning of a tradition in the British Virgin Islands. Yachts would sail into to the Bight to lay overnight or stay to explore all of the great snorkeling and scuba diving sites nearby.
Taking the plunge
off the stern of the Willy T
The Willie T is like a magnet to the sailors after a day of water sports, where they could come and enjoy a great lunch and take in favorite drinks served up by the always-entertaining bartender "Zeus". If there is anyone in the world that can get a crowd going "he be da mon." Dinner is also served on the Willie T with choices from fresh lobsters to all types of meat dishes, salads, and of course plenty of specialty drinks.
Around 1999, the Willie T was having a few structural problems, namely it was just plain going to sink in the near future! It was decided to be stripped of all its machinery - everything and anything that would pose a environmental problem to the sea, towed off its anchored space and scuttled in about two hundred feet of water, to make a great haven for fish!
The "new"” Willie T soon found itself in the same location keeping on the tradition of good food, partying, ski shots (a water ski with holes in it where shot glasses are set into the ski and everyone that is participating picks up the ski and down goes the drink). I won't go into the other types of drink consumption on the Willie T - I'll let you see when you come aboard!
The new Willie T is much larger than the original but still has that definitive pirate ship look to it. The Willie T also sponsors sailboat races and wind surfer contests between Tortola and Norman Island. The Virgins Cup, a women at the helm race is an annual event that starts in Road Town and finishes at the Willie T. The Interline Regatta also uses the Willie T in the schedules of week long racing around the BVI. While on the Willie T don't forget to buy one of their great "T" shirts, or ask Zeus how to get a free Willie T shirt!
Ferry service to the Willie T can be arranged for dinner parties, leaving out of Nanny Cay, Tortola, on the "Wet Wille", leaving every day at 5pm and returning around 11pm.
Check out our Photo Gallery for more photos of the Willy T.