The British Virgin Islands – A Pirate’s Paradise Still Full of Buried Treasure!
Nothing is as romantic or exciting as the Virgin Islands’ colorful history filled with pirate lore. The island chain was home to the most famous pirates – Blackbeard,Guest Posting Calico Jack, Cap’n William Kidd – but one of the most famous and well documented stories of pirates and their booty is that of Captain Lloyd and his crew, who buried stolen treasure in the islands; specifically, Norman Island and Tortola. Today, Norman island is a popular stop on BVI boat tours.
The story is that in 1750, the crew of the Spanish treasure galleon, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, dropped anchor at Okracore, North Carolina to seek refuge from a terrible storm. The ship was loaded with tons of silver bars when she was badly damaged during the Scuba diving Komodo Island storm. While the Nuestra’s Captain Bonilla was dealing with taxation issues in Cape Fear, two pirate ships absconded with the silver and sailed away. One of the ships never made it out of the harbor in North Carolina, but the other was successful in the escape, and that double-ended brigantine ship was captained by Owen Lloyd.
Captain Lloyd was very familiar with the Virgin Islands and headed for Norman Island to divide the ill-gotten gains among his crew and himself. After three weeks at sea, Captain Lloyd and crew arrived at Norman Island. On board, their cargo manifest included 55 chests filled with silver dollars, 3 large chests full of silver plates and wrought silver, indigo, tobacco and animal hides and furs. The cargo was worth $200,000 at the time; tens of millions today.
Captain Lloyd and his crew buried the treasure on Norman Island, and possibly Tortola before sailing to St. Thomas to clear customs. However, Captain Lloyd made a fatal mistake – he left three crew members behind on Norman Island to finish burying and guard the treasure. The crew members weren’t secretive about what they were doing, and soon the story of treasure spread among the residents of Tortola, who swarmed Norman Island and began digging up buried treasure. Eventually, the pirates were all captured and jailed, and when the frenzy subsided, only a small portion of the treasure had been recovered.