Beer O’Clock in the BVI

20 March 2009 By Lisa Hoogerwerf Knapp
Photo by Eryn Beck

What time is it? It’s Beer O’Clock again! This week, we’re bending an elbow in the British Virgin Islands.

Pop quiz: How many islands in the BVIs? If you know, you have to prove it by counting out loud after imbibing a few shots at the Soggy Dollar. “One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, four….” Actually, there are 60 gem-like isles, featuring some of the best crew watering holes in the Caribbean.

Probably the most famous of these is the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke. Its name is apropos, as there is no dock. Those who thirst must swim ashore and buy drinks with soggy dollars and wet bottoms (or take the tender, but where’s the fun in that?). “Soggy Dollar is where the Bushwhacker was created,” says Tara Manley of M/Y La Vida. “It’s just beautiful…the bar’s right down on the water.” Multitasking patrons enjoy downing a flying fish sandwich with their Bushwhacker or Painkiller while playing the Ring Game and listening to local entertainer Ruben Chinnery.

If you’re ready to rock, head to the Jolly Roger in Soper’s Hole, Tortola. Its Bud Light True Music Series attracts some kick-out-the-jams bands during the season. Recent guests artists included The Blues Disciples, a high-energy band from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who played there in February. Tunes like “Shake It Baby, Shake it All Night Long” got even the most burned-out and crotchety crew up on their feet.

Quito’s Gazebo at the dinghy dock in Cane Garden Bay on the back side of Tortola is another spot for great live music when owner Quito Rhymer takes the stage. Here you’ll find Carib beer, not the ever-present Kalik, and tasty island-style eats.

Tortola is also home to another aptly named hangout: the Bomba Shack in Cappoon Bay. “They have full moon parties that can get out of control,” says one crewmember who chooses to remain anonymous. Urban legend has it that partygoers occasionally howl at the moon after chugging punch created from hallucinogenic mushrooms.

“It’s a shack that they turned into a bar,” Manley reports of the sand-floored establishment. “Bras and panties are hanging all over the place. A sign says to ‘take it off’ at the door.”

It’s not all self-indulgence at every bar Tortola, however. Pusser’s Marina Cay recently had a Welcome Home Party to celebrate the return of captains and crew who had completed a goodwill trip to Haiti. The tickets to the event sold for $30 to help fund the repair for boat damage caused by inclement weather and mechanical snafus during the trip. While the cash was being counted, musician Michael Beans rocked the house.

Another bar with an altruistic side, The Pub at the Bitter End on Virgin Gorda, helped keep the water blue with its Green Clean Up on St. Paddy’s Day. Anyone who brought in a bag of garbage from the North Sound got a free drink.

“We have an unbelievable mix of people at The Pub on Bitter End,” says Mary Jo Ryan, resort manager. “Everyone comes to the Bitter End on Monday night – all charter guests, yachties, locals, staff from other resorts.” You can dance outside after noshing on their brick oven pizzas, but The Pub is best known as a sports bar. Its huge 10 x 12 outdoor screen is a great place to root for your team.

Did you think we had forgotten the most infamous bar in the BVI? It’s almost a cliché by now to show your wet T at Willy T’s or jump naked into the water from the poop deck (although rumor has it, this is no longer allowed). Cappy Rick Lenardson has seen the dirty deed done from this floating bar, housed in a 1935 Baltic Trader called the William Thornton, which is anchored off Norman Island. “I loved Willy’s T’s,” Cappy Rick says, “But now I am just sick of it. We used to wear swords and hats, but now everyone does it since Johnny Depp made it famous in Pirates of the Caribbean.”