One of the highlights of my last trio to the Virgin Islands was the boat trip to The Bight at Normand Island and the "Willie T" (William Thornton) floating bar and restaurant. Established in June, 1985 by Mick and Annie Gardner this is one of the most colorful and unique floating bar and restaurant in the world. The original boat was a 1935 Baltic Trader that after about 10 years in the restaurant service sprung a leak in the middle of the night and sank on June 11, 1995 on her mooring in The Byte at Norman Island. The boat was raised and hauled out to sea where she was sunk again in hopes of it becoming an artificial reef for divers, but the boat hasn't survived the rugged conditions and there is virtually nothing left of the old William Thornton.
Today the new William Thornton, a steel hulled boat that was found in Florida is back on the original mooring and the party is still going on on a daily basis. The new Willie T opened for business on January 6, 1996. There is a huge lunch crowd there every day and the party at Happy Hour is legendary. Prior to an accident in 2006, the practice of people of all ages jumping from the "poop deck" atop the bar area into the beautiful and warn blue waters of The Bight. The use to be a Willie T t-shirt for the women that jumped off naked, but since the accident this practice has come to an end. The menu is known for it's homemade conch fritters, chicken and seafood rotis, bar-b-que and fresh fish. The bar is the center of debauchery on the aft deck where body shots and "shotskis" are flowing. The "shotski" is a water ski modified to hold 4 shots for synchronized guzzling.
The customers are as varied as the unusualness of the boat, Yachties arrive on their dinghy's boaters raft up to the Willie T and a full group of locals all for this floating parking lot around the Willie T as the come searching for food, drink and fun each day. The life on and around the Willie T's slogan, "You're a long time dead"- encouragement to have fun and live or today, fits the aura of the venerable old ship perfectly.
I'll get to return to the Willie T in November and I really can't wait for my next visit there. ;o)