Money Bay Norman Island. Tales from the Bilge

Today, I will tell a story on Money Bay Norman Island. One of our top 5 favorite anchorages in days gone by is on the South Side of Norman Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Now, the island is owned by Henry Jarecki, who bought it from the Creque family for 8 million dollars in 1999.

You may recognize the name Creque. They have a long history with the “Caves,” from which the nickname Treasure Island came.

Norman Island, British Virgin Islands, Map
Norman Island, British Virgin Islands, Map

Our History of Money Bay Norman Island

Taken from an article I wrote to the editor of BVI Yacht Guides over two decades ago. The report is an excellent place to start my tale!

“When I came to the islands ten years ago (1997), our favorite anchorage was Money Bay Norman Island. We always thought that WE were the first to discover Money Bay.

Of course, we did.

It would be a grand adventure that we would build up with our guests. Depending on the weather, we would go to the outside of Norman Island and anchor.

While anchoring, we would tie our stern to shore and have no people or other boats as it only fits one.

Money Bay Norman Island
Money Bay Norman Island Tales from the Crypt

We could make out the glow of St Croix in the distance. We had no cell service and no internet and would spend the time diving for sand dollars. Additionally, combing the beach for shells and having a bonfire on the beach was lots of fun.

There was one perfect little beach that was JUST RIGHT in the corner, and we could surf the swell if it came around the point on kayaks that would deposit up right up on the shore.”

Tell me more

Money Bay had a small salt pond in the back, and you could climb to the top if you had on good shoes and long pants and did not mind a few prickles along the way!

Without fail, it was everyone’s favorite spot to be. Sorry, quite a few of my pictures here are old, so they are of low quality.

The small beach after the break wall was put in at Money Bay
The small beach after the break wall was put in at Money Bay

Why is it called Money Bay?

The entire general bay is now referred to as ” Money Bay,” but some conjecture suggests that what we refer to as Money Bay might have been South Bay at one point.

According to my information, what we call Money Bay Norman Island used to be called LANDING BAY at one time, and the area to the West was Money Bay.

Why Money Bay? Because of Shipwrecked Galleons and Doubloons, of course! Not only that, but cannons, anchors, and lead shots and cannonballs. Yes, I know where they are, but I am not telling you on the internet 🙂

If you look at the old chart I have at the top here, you can see that John Purcell had the land lease for the area in 1776.

money bay metal detector

Illegal Immigrants and Shipwrecks

We would often stay over there for a week at a time off charter.

SCUBA diving, snorkeling, using a metal detector, and watching the birds. I don’t think I have ever been happier at any time in my life than hanging out at this wonderfully secluded spot!

We had been there for one week in the summer. We were hanging out and doing our thing. We watched a group of people down on the far west end of the bay.

It was a holiday, probably during Carnival in August. No one ever came up to where we were.

We noticed police boats, and when getting out our binoculars, we could see women and babies in the boat with what looked like coolers.

We assumed that they were out on a picnic! After all, the police often use to practice their target shooting by going for goats on the island.

The small beach after the break wall was put in at Money Bay
The small beach after the break wall was put in at Money Bay

Go-fast Boat

Once we left the area to restock, imagine our surprise that a go-fast boat had dropped many immigrants there. They told them it was the USVI, as that is where these people from St Maarten had paid to be taken.

Also, the go-fast had hit the reef going in and made them swim to shore! The boat managed to get themselves off the reef and went back to St Maarten.

At least one infant died. There may have been more; my memory is a bit cloudy.

They had been there for days, in numbers around 30-40. I was stunned that no one came up to our end to ask for help!

Afterward, on “our” little beach, we did find a Spanish bible and a few articles of clothing.

In 2014 another 41 people on Norman Island were located.

Sunset money bay

Customs came a calling…Money Bay Norman Island

Our next story includes customs and machine guns showing up on the deck of our boat one night in Money Bay!

I believe we were on a charter with perhaps Swimvacation. It was nighttime. We might have just been having dessert. We had no anchor lights on (remember, you want to see the stars here).

All at once, a VERY BRIGHT spotlight was shined on us in the cockpit. We all jumped! A boat was tied to our yacht, and we had NEVER heard them.

Customs were checking us out—an eerie experience in the dark. There were no problems there; it just took a few minutes for our hearts to stop beating as quickly.

Next Tales from the Crypt- Machine Guns!

Watch for the next story in our series of the ultra-secret and complex operation to nab us with customs thinking we were drug smugglers with machine guns trained on us!