Monday, March 23, 2020

Norman Island, BVI

Norman Island, British Virgin Islands


The Bight

Rather than sit in a marina waiting out another front coming through, we checked the anchorages on the various islands of the BVI’s. Our considerations were both wind exposure and the swell that can enter the anchorage. The Bight on Norman Island has a west facing orientation and is considered the calmest anchorage for swell in the BVI’s. The wind does come over the surrounding hills and shifts as it curls off the various irregular steep faces on the north, east and south sides of the bay. The forecast called for winds to be in the mid-twenties to thirty with squall gusts into the mid-thirties. Winds during the last two nights have registered into the low thirties as we were hit by heavy rain squalls, but being on a mooring that I had dived on to inspect, I felt confident we were secure. Because the wind had no fetch there were no wind waves and the Bight was living up to its reputation for having no swell curl in, it was just the constant swinging on the buoy and the noise of the wind to contend with.
The Bight, Norman Island, BVI

Pirates Bight
The Bight has two restaurant/bar venues and no residences, private or public. The infamous floating schooner The William Thornton, known affectionately as Willy T’s on the south side of the bay and Pirates Cove Restaurant on the beach in the northeast corner. When we were here twenty years ago Willy T’s was notorious for the patrons flashing passing boats and the passing crews returning the favour. Although not the same schooner, having been replaced a couple of times, most recently after Irma sunk the previous one, the tradition tries to live on. Unfortunately due to the dwindling numbers of boats due to the Covid 19 virus, the patrons on the Friday we stopped in were a rather subdued collection. The staff were not certain how long before they had to close but it was anticipated Saturday would be their last day.
Willy T's

We had dinner at Pirates Bight last evening and they anticipated closing after Sunday’s lunch service. For any who were here years ago this was the site of the Billy Bones Bar. The unfortunate part is that the restaurant was just rebuilt after the devastation of Irma and now, once again, the employees and owners incomes will be severely impacted.  Most of the patrons were on short term charters and the concern was whether their flights would be available. We were approached by a couple of cruisers who suspected we also were cruisers, it must be my crusty, sun-baked, bearded appearance, wanting to share information on the impacts of the virus. It was becoming apparent that the BVI’s were to be home for the foreseeable future.

When we had entered the bay a few days earlier we were amazed at the number of mooring balls placed, at least seventy, and yet there were several empty. I doubt there was 25 mooring balls twenty years ago when we were here but they were always full and many additional boats were always at anchor. The past two days have experienced an exodus as the charter fleets end their weeks and no new charters are arriving. There is a strange isolated feeling as we look out at twenty six boats in a bay that would normally have eighty to ninety this time of year.

Fortunately, we have food and although our solar controller has just quit working we have diesel to generate power. The water is crystal clear and just around our south point are some caves for snorkelling. There are trails for hiking and as the day progresses and our boat numbers dwindle further, we have no problems with social distancing. Better weather is forecast for Tuesday so we may change our anchorage but it will be here in the BVI’s as we cannot go to anywhere else. Stay safe all.
Thinking of all of you and hope you are well.

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