An important legacy of the rich seafaring past of the BVI can be found in the trading sloops, known as the Tortola Boats, designed and built in the BVI territory.  These sailing vessels were used by local entrepreneurs as early as the 18th century to ferry passengers and cargo around the Caribbean.  They ranged in length from 20-60 feet and became a solid cornerstone around which grew the culture and economy of the BVI.  The unique design made Tortola Boats immediately recognizable as they sailed between islands.  This important piece of BVI maritime history was almost lost when many of the vessels were sold or abandoned to rot after the advent of more modern sail and motor crafts.


Hurricane Irma was unkind to these unique pieces of living history, but work has started afresh to restore Youth Instructor, Sea Moon, Intrepid, Esmie, and a currently un-named frame.


The Virgin Islands Sloop Foundation's aim is to preserve the maritime heritage of the Virgin Islands by ensuring that the history and knowledge of traditional wooden boat building is passed on to future generations.

Its mission:

  • To provide funding and supervision for the maintenance and restoration of historically significant wooden sloops in the Territory.
  • To organise and develop programmes that teach and enhance boat-building skills as a learning opportunity for the youth of the Virgin Islands.

Nanny Cay has been supporting Virgin Islands Maritime Museum and the Tortola Boats programme for many years by providing free dockage and storage in the boatyard.  As a board member of the newly formed Virgin Island Sloop Foundation we are proud to continue to support the preservation of this important part of BVI heritage.


A short history of Tortola Boats (Virgin Islands Sloops) when the boats were docked at Nanny Cay early in 2017.

The raising of Intrepid and Youth Instructor from the inner marina post-Irma


Community Support / Tortola Boats / Virgin Islands Sloop Foundation

Traditional Tortola Boat Youth Instructor Repaired, Relaunched Goes Sailing

nannycay / July 13, 2020
Community Support / Tortola Boats / Virgin Islands Sloop Foundation

Virgin Islands Sloop Foundation Launches At Nanny Cay

Tortola Boats / Virgin Islands Sloop Foundation

Cedar School Takes A Maritime History Tour

Community Support / Tortola Boats

Tortola Boats To Be Restored And Housed At Nanny Cay

BVI Spring Regatta / Tortola Boats

Intrepid Wins 3rd Annual VP Bank Tortola Sloop Spring Challenge

THE COLLECTION (more to come)


Intrepid has a rich and storied past. She was built in Tortola and used to carry produce, charcoal and fish to St Thomas.

She was later sold to someone in Fajardo, Puerto Rico,  and used as a fishing boat.  During prohibition, Intrepid was entered into the lucrative trade of rum running between Tortola and Fajardo and did well until she had the ill fortune to be apprehended by the Coast Guard.  The boat was confiscated, sold at a public auction and was finally purchased by Judge Cooper of the Federal Court of Puerto Rico.

In 1935 when Judge Cooper was leaving Puerto Rico, Intrepid was purchased by Anton Teytaud for $85 and sailed to St Croix where she was used for day charters and raced in regattas throughout the Virgin Islands (winning a first place in the 1954 Tortola-St Croix race).  Anton loved his sturdy little sloop and reluctantly sold her to Dick Isherwood in the early 1980s when he left St Croix.

CURRENT STATUS:  Under repair at Nanny Cay


Esmie was generously donated by Leando Nibbs had dreamed of building a sloop since he was a child.

Named after his wife Esmie, who helped to build the boat, takes it place among the artefacts of Virgin Islands culture and history and acts as an inspiration to future generations of Virgin Islanders.

CURRENT STATUS:  Under repair at Nanny Cay