Yacht Warriors

⛵🏴‍☠️ Pirate Havens of the British Virgin Islands

Published 2 months ago • 3 min read

Hi Reader,

Before we hoist sails on today's journey, let's navigate through a couple of recent news items:

  • Last week the Baths bore witness to a charter grounding on the rocks amidst Red Flag conditions. This incident mirrors the lee shore grounding of the Hillbilly a few weeks ago. Takeaways: monitor weather resources vigilantly, respect Red Flag warnings, and steer clear of anchorages that test fate (lee shores).
  • There have been recent reports of multiple stolen dinghies at JVD, BVI. Raise your dinghy on davits if you can, and utilize your dinghy lock at night.
  • Meanwhile, Lagoon announced their new Lagoon 43, which will begin to replace the 42 in charter fleets over the next few years as they come into production. Key changes include: the addition of a seated flybridge area and some modular components, such as table layouts which connect the indoor and outdoor space.

Today's newsletter serves as a treasure map to the rich historical tapestry of the BVI, offering a glimpse into the turbulent waters of the past. As we prepare to dive deeper into each story in the coming weeks, consider this a preview of tales and treachery that colored the British Virgin Islands (BVI) during the golden age of piracy.

These islands were not just idyllic paradises but pivotal stages for the drama of piracy to unfold, with each cove and island holding stories of hidden treasures and pirate escapades.

A Deeper Dive into Pirate History in the BVI

The BVI’s intricate network of over 50 islands and cays, with their secluded bays and hidden nooks, made them a natural sanctuary for pirates seeking refuge and a strategic lookout for unsuspecting merchant ships.

The 17th and 18th centuries saw these waters teem with pirate ships, their sails on the horizon striking fear into the hearts of sailors. As European powers vied for control of the Caribbean, the ensuing chaos provided a perfect backdrop for pirates like Henry Morgan to ply their trade, weaving their names into the fabric of maritime legend.

Norman Island: Unveiling the Treasure Myth

Norman Island is steeped in tales of buried pirate treasures, drawing a direct line to the piracy era. Allegedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island," it's rumored that pirates once hid their loot in the island's numerous caves.

This tangible connection to piracy's treasure-hunting ventures makes Norman Island a focal point for those seeking to unravel the mysteries of the past, where fact and folklore merge beneath the Caribbean sun.

The Myth of Blackbeard and Dead Chest Island

The legend of Blackbeard, or Edward Teach, is intrinsically linked to the BVI, particularly Dead Chest Island. Folklore has it that Blackbeard marooned fifteen of his men here with only a bottle of rum, giving rise to the song "Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest."

While academic evidence might not pinpoint Blackbeard's presence in the BVI, the lore surrounding Dead Chest Island embodies the perilous life of pirates and the brutal reality of their brotherhood.

Jost Van Dyke: Reveling in Pirate Camaraderie

Jost Van Dyke embodies the spirit of freedom and festivity often associated with pirate lore. The island's namesake, a Dutch pirate, would be pleased to see his legacy of liberty live on in the island’s lively beach bars and welcoming atmosphere.

The famous Foxy’s and the Soggy Dollar Bar are not just places to enjoy a drink; they are modern-day meeting places where tales of adventure are exchanged, much like the pirates of old might have shared their own stories. Jost Van Dyke is a testament to the enduring allure of the Caribbean’s pirate past, wrapped in the warmth of island hospitality.

Anegada: Among the Ghosts of Shipwrecks

Anegada, with its dangerous reefs and shallow waters, stands as a silent guardian over countless shipwrecks, each with its own story of misfortune. Diving into the clear waters to explore wrecks like the Donna Paula, a merchant ship that met its fate in the 19th century, offers a tangible connection to the maritime history that shapes the BVI. Another one is the HMS Astraea that was on escort duty to protect against pirates.

These underwater graveyards serve as a reminder of the perils that awaited those who navigated these waters, from pirates to sailors, and the fine line between fortune and folly.

Charting a Course Through History

As we dive into the BVI's piracy history in the coming weeks, each island will connect us directly to the age of adventure. These stories, blending historical facts with legendary tales, will offer a richer backdrop for your next charter visit.

That's it for today!

Have a great week!

- Matt Weidert

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