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Original Willy T sunk @ Key Bay, Peter Island

- for the purpose of an artificial reef & dive site
The original Willy T was sunk at Key Bay off Peter Island on August 7, 2019. Photo: Facebook
A skeleton mermaid attached to the bow of the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
A skeleton mermaid attached to the bow of the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
Some of the persons who worked on transforming the Willy T into a 'underwater pirate-themed shipwreck'. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
Some of the persons who worked on transforming the Willy T into a 'underwater pirate-themed shipwreck'. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
Inside the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
Inside the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
A skeleton pirate taking some timeout from deck cleaning duties! Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
A skeleton pirate taking some timeout from deck cleaning duties! Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
The captain's table on the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
The captain's table on the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
Taking a final photograph with the 'captain' before the Willy T goes under. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
Taking a final photograph with the 'captain' before the Willy T goes under. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
A chest of treasures on the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
A chest of treasures on the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
Scrubbing the deck on the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
Scrubbing the deck on the Willy T. Photo: Beyond The Reef/Facebook
The original Willy T was sunk at Key Bay off Peter Island on August 7, 2019. Photo: Facebook
The original Willy T was sunk at Key Bay off Peter Island on August 7, 2019. Photo: Facebook
KEY BAY, Peter Island, VI- The original William Thornton aka ‘Willy T’, which was destroyed by Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 was on August 7, 2019 sunk at Key Bay off Peter Island where it will become a dive site.

The sinking was done by Beyond The Reef, a locally based non-profit organisation specialising in creating artificial reefs and dive sites.

‘Underwater pirate-themed shipwreck playground’

According to Beyond The Reef, it had spent the past several months turning the hurricane damaged vessel into a first of its kind “underwater pirate-themed shipwreck playground” for divers.

“We are recycling the damaged vessel, creating artificial reef to attract marine species, creating a new tourism site and positive publicity for the BVI and most importantly asking every person who visits the site to donate $5 to local BVI children’s swim programs,” Beyond The Reef stated on its Facebook page on August 6, 2019.

The Willy T was fitted with skeleton pirates, treasure chests, flags and a skeleton mermaid before being towed and sunk to her final resting place at Key Bay at a depth of approximately 60 feet.

The Willy T lives on

It was on June 6, 2019 that Minister for Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration, Honourable Vincent O. Wheatley (R9) had said the original Willy T will continue to live on as an integral part of the Virgin Islands’ tourism offerings at its new location on the seabed, serving as part of the territory’s artificial reef system.

“This artificial reef system will also allow diving enthusiasts to continue to enjoy the ‘Willy T’ from an entirely new and different perspective,” Hon Wheatley had stated.

Capitalising on history

According to Beyond The Reef, on its website, the tourism value of a underwater pirate ship such as the Willy T will further the Virgin Islands long history in the Caribbean “as having once been a major shipping port as well as a pirate base.”

It said this history was brought to life through one of the most popular books ever written, “Treasure Island” that is believed to have been written based off of a true story involving a man named Owen Lloyd hiding treasure in the [British] Virgin Islands hundreds of years ago.

“This book has since inspired the enormous movie franchise Pirates of the Caribbean, and countless pirate related tourism ventures since then. By playing to this popular history and incorporating sculptures of pirates on the vessel for photo opportunities, we believe that the BVI will capitalise on the new tourism hotspot that will bring people to the BVI while generating money for local charity and further increasing the underwater biological richness of the area.”

Additionally, Beyond The Reef says it plans to continue expanding this underwater art reef to include other derelict materials currently lying abandoned throughout the territory as a result of Hurricane Irma. Some of these additional materials include parts of airplane fuselages as well as retired airport fire fighting vehicles.

“The restoring and sinking of these additional vehicles would be a win-win for the BVI in that they would be disposed of free of charge and repurposed to an art piece underwater that would generate tourism for the BVI.”

Beyond the Reef also said it intends on taking advantage of the international exposure the wreck site may receive in order to promote local ocean conservation efforts and give a certain portion of every dive back to the children of the VI for educational programmes.

“All wrecks are known to attract fish because of their sheltering properties as well as recruit new corals, which will enhance biodiversity in an otherwise barren area of Peter Island where we propose to sink the materials.”

11 Responses to “Original Willy T sunk @ Key Bay, Peter Island”

  • Not2Sure (11/08/2019, 12:56) Like (11) Dislike (1) Reply
    A rich history
    • For who? (12/08/2019, 08:41) Like (2) Dislike (32) Reply
      A rich history for who? You white people who aren't even from here?
      • Captain (12/08/2019, 11:31) Like (15) Dislike (1) Reply
        You white people? Wow that is a very racist remark. Come on it's 2019 for the love of God we are all one people.
  • Int (11/08/2019, 14:01) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    Positive, like the concept.
    • Not evil ? (12/08/2019, 05:34) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
      I thought according to Bishop Grine, these are demonic! Pure foolishness! He need to go siddung.
  • asking for a friend (11/08/2019, 14:31) Like (0) Dislike (32) Reply
    how much of these artificial reefs are we going to have?
    • Kenny. P. Jhonson (12/08/2019, 09:19) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      Tell your friend to ask them darn self (without a fake name) that’s the issue with BVI people. Always hiding behind a keyboard
  • How (12/08/2019, 08:43) Like (1) Dislike (12) Reply
    How do these people get to decide what is great history for us? Who approved this nonsense?
  • Captain (12/08/2019, 11:26) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    My friend dove on this site yesterday and said it was very well done and it was beside a beautiful reef wall
  • Captainmombo (13/08/2019, 09:22) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    “You white people” bring money to the BVI through tourism. This dive site will benefit the children of the BVI as well as the economy through tourism. It’s a win win situation. Can’t wait to dive the Willy T.
  • Old Pirate (16/08/2019, 02:58) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    The "Original" Willy T was sunk in 1994. It sprang a leak overnight and the then manager let it drift ashore, later to be towed to sea and sunk. Another old Baltic trader was sourced as a replacement.


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