The Old Willy T Gets New Life…..Underwater

The Old Willy T Gets New Life…..Underwater

By Jenn Manes

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We have a very cool story to share with all of you. I’m sure you all know by now that the Willy T – the large steel ship that was anchored off of Norman Island and served as a bar/restaurant – was heavily damaged during Hurricane Irma. The vessel was so severely damaged 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 – it was the third vessel that served as the Willy T – and it was first anchored off of Peter Island and reopened back in June 2018. The new Willy T finally moved back home to Norman Island last month where it remains today. Who says you can’t go home…

Phew, that’s a lot of backstory! Ok, so now you’re probably 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 one of the British Virgin Islands’ latest artificial reefs. How cool is that??!

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. And in our opinion, they’re well on their way to doing that.

Now this is clearly a cool thing. But makes it even cooler is how they turned the old Willy T into a pirate-themed wreck. Check out a few pics:

Beyond the Reef

Amazing, right??!

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 top of the wreck sitting about 35 feet underwater. 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 pics taken the day of the sinking:

I’m not sure about all of you, but I’m pretty excited to check this out.

Beyond the Reef is also working to sink three airplanes that were also damaged during the hurricanes. These planes are being converted into sharks and will be sunk near Great Dog in the Dog Islands.

I know I’ve said it before, and I hope it’s not too annoying to hear me say it again, but so much good has come out of those storms. I am thankful for everyone who has had a part in it.

For more information on Beyond the Reef, please visit its website at www.1beyondthereef.com

About the Author: Jenn Manes is the author of a popular Virgin Island blog “News of St. John”– I am waiting for her to send a short bio.

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