Often the first stop on a round-the-islands tour that is sailing in the BVIs, mooring in Pirate’s Bight on Norman Island epitomises all that is special about the experience. Claimed to be the setting for Treasure Island, this is an ideal introduction to the stage set that is the BVIs. You sail in, moor up at one of the many mooring buoys and relax. Unlike the Mediterranean where there are many varieties of buoys designed to tax the unwary yachtsman (or woman) the ones in the BVIs are dead straightforward. You motor up, pick up the floating line attached to the blue and white buoy, tie it to the boat with a couple of lines and break out the beer, safe in the knowledge that your boat isn’t going anywhere.
The buoys make sailing easy – no stress making sure your anchor holds – but, more importantly, saving the fragile coral beneath the waves. If you walk along the beach at Marina Cay you see lots of dead coral. It looks like bleached bones, which it is in a way. Once tied up you have a choice of two restaurants, unless you’re eating on board. The Bight or Willy T’s.
Most boats have a barbecue mounted on the stern transom. That’s the bit of polished guardrail round the back. It’s a great idea, and the shoreside supermarkets are brilliantly geared up with frozen fish (swordfish, tuna), shrimps, steaks, ribs and the like. If the weather is calm it’s a doddle. If not all manner of creative activity is required to get the barbecue lit in a “fresh” – I.e. Strong – wind. We’ve found (1) use lots of paper even with self-lighting charcoal, (2) shield it with a towel – careful here, and (3) light lumps of charcoal on the gas stove below decks and carry it up the stairs to the outside like a Viking raiding party. It’s all probably worth it – the smell of the meat roasting is irresistible. Probably the boats downstream of the smoke feel similarly enthusiastic.
So, the choice: Pirate’s Bight beckons with sand between your toes, live music and the chance to enjoy, perhaps, a Pina Colada. Willy T’s (The William Thornton), anchored in the west of the bay, was named for the architect of the Capitol building in Washington. He must surely have had admirers to have a floating restaurant named after him in a far flung corner of the empire.
After an hour settling in, we dropped the dinghy and went across to the famous Willy T’s for a couple of sundowners while watching the jumpers (naked people leaping from the highest part of the roof of the vessel into the water) and the body shots (girls laying on the bar having shots drunk from across their naked bodies).
So Willy T’s has wild parties, with drunken nude swimmers diving into the water. No, we didn’t see any either. It was all quiet on the western front, as it were. Back to The Bight it was. Moderately busy but by no means full, given it’s high season, with some live music (3 piece band – singer, guitar and MacBook) with some dad dancing. They eat early out here, and not long after eight thirty the place is putting the chairs on the tables. Another orgy winds down as the cocoa goes on.
Restaurant and bar Pirate’s Bight
…and Willy T’s if you’re up for wild drunken cocoa