Popular Floating Bar is Reborn and Relocated After Hurricane Irma

The William Thornton, affectionately known as the Willy T has been an icon in the British Virgin Islands since 1989.

This floating bar and restaurant has entertained the locals and tourists for nearly 3 decades while moored at the Bight on Norman Island. However, the epic 2017 hurricane season changed that.

On September 6, 2017 major Hurricane Irma cut through the Virgin Islands as a strong Category 5 storm. Irma leveled structures and ripped vessels from their moorings, tossing them about like toys. The Willy T was far from spared, suffering severe damage.

After the storm, Willy T’s owner Ewan Anderson acquired another vessel and started an ambitious refit that would breathe new life into the iconic party barge.

A Cold Reception

Willy T at Tortola Pier
Willy T docked at Tortola Pier after being denied anchorage at Norman Island. Photo: Virgin Islands News Online

Eight months after Irma’s devastation, the new Willy T sailed towards home on Norman Island on May 10, 2018. Unfortunately, the homecoming did not quite pan out the way her owner and crew had in mind.

Community leaders called Anderson to a meeting where they explained the Willy T could no longer stay in the Bight. As the news spread through social media and other channels, outrage brewed.

Many informed islanders speculated that the decision to boot Willy T off Norman Island was to appease a forthcoming private development. Frustrated and disappointed with the decision, Anderson promptly began searching for a new home for his business.

Finding a New Home

Three weeks of searching, permitting and paperwork concluded with a much-deserved grand re-opening. Willy T and her crew welcomed back guests for the first time since Hurricane Irma on June 2, 2018.

Now moored in Great Harbour at Peter Island, the new Willy T is back to its usual antics. The crew is back to slinging shots, handing out pirate-themed tattoos and providing a terrific time for their patrons.

Willy T Limited Edition ShirtsFor a Good Cause

Commemorative T-shirts were created to help raise money for the Unite BVI Foundation which benefits the rebuilding necessary throughout the Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It’s never too late to support a good cause, so consider ordering your T-shirt now through Willy T’s secure online merchandise store.