Only about six months after it settled into its new home off Peter Island, the iconic Willy T floating restaurant and bar is being asked to move yet again, according to co-owner Ewan Anderson.
Around the beginning of October, the business received a letter from the Department of Trade and Consumer Affairs, stating that due to “objections” from Peter Island Ltd., the vessel had three months to vacate its current location.
Yesterday, an attorney representing Peter Island wrote to the Willy T saying that the company stood by government’s decision, Mr. Anderson said. The boat has until the end of December to leave, he added.
As for where the Willy T will go next, Mr. Anderson isn’t sure.
“It’s called being in limbo — in between a rock and a hard place. Thirty-five years here and I’m a little jaded,” he said. “We’re frustrated. It’s a BVI icon. It’s what tourists come here to visit.”
Representatives for Peter Island and the trade department could not immediately be reached for comment.
After Hurricane Irma, the Willy T ended up heavily damaged and beached on Norman Island, near where it had floated for many years.
Government, however, denied the owners permission to moor again in Bight Bay off Norman. In early May, the owners brought in a new $500,000 vessel to replace the former establishment and moved it to Great Harbour off Peter Island.
“The Willy T has been moored at the Bight under an annual seabed licence which expired in February 2018,” a government announcement explained. “Since the earlier part of 2017, the government of the Virgin Islands has been having discussions with the owners and operators of the Willy T about a number of environmental and other operational issues, and about new development plans for the area which would require the vessel to relocate.”
Mr. Anderson said in May, however, that the seabed licence government referred to applied to the former dinghy dock for the previous Willy T, which, like the boat itself, was also destroyed in the storm.
A separate annual mooring licence for the actual vessel was paid for and renewed by the National Parks Trust in April, said Mr. Anderson, who circulated the receipt for that payment to local media.