Many of you who have visited the BVI know The William Thornton, better known as Willy T – the large black, red and gold steel ship that was anchored off of Norman Island and served as a bar/restaurant for a number of years.
Unfortunately, it was so heavily damaged during Hurricane Irma that it could no longer be used; and for nearly two years it sat smashed against the shoreline near Pirate’s Bight.
A new Willy T was built – the third vessel that has served as the Willy T – and after some deliberation, was first anchored in Great Harbour off Peter Island when it reopened back in June 2018, and then finally moved back home to Norman Island in July, where it remains today.
If you were wondering what happened to the old Willy T that was damaged during the storm…well it recently received a new life – on the ocean floor. The old Willy T is now one of the British Virgin Islands’ latest artificial reefs!
It all happened thanks to a nonprofit group called Beyond the Reef. The BVI organization is comprised of a group of collaborators who are passionate about the ocean and include an underwater engineer, an oceanographer, a metal sculptor and an environmental filmmaker. Their goal, with a little help from the community near and far, is to create the most impactful artificial coral reef system in the world.
The old Willy T was sunk on August 7th in Key Bay on Peter Island. It sits 65 feet down between coral heads with the crows nest at the top of the wreck sitting about 35 feet below the surface.
The organizers of Beyond the Reef are asking all companies that dive the wreck to donate $5 per person, which will go back into the community through an initiative that teaches local children how to swim. Snorkelers can check out the wreck too, but you really need to dive the site to truly enjoy it all.
Here are a few pictures taken of the building, the sink and the wreck:
The old Willy T makes its way to its new home.
The sinking begins…
For more information, visit: www.1beyondthereef.com