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heydn62
03-15-2009, 08:42
Most of our family vacations involve cruises and we have just put a deposit down on one for April 2010 that will take us to Tortola. Does anyone have any advice on private ops on the island for a 2 tank dive?

Are there any dive sites in particular we don't want to miss. My son (13 by then) and I are still novice divers so we want to keep it simple.

Thanks for any help.

scubadiver888
03-16-2009, 10:00
Most of our family vacations involve cruises and we have just put a deposit down on one for April 2010 that will take us to Tortola. Does anyone have any advice on private ops on the island for a 2 tank dive?

Are there any dive sites in particular we don't want to miss. My son (13 by then) and I are still novice divers so we want to keep it simple.

Thanks for any help.
I don't know any private dive ops in the area. I've been there once and just went with the cruise ship excursion. There were two girls who had just been certified and never dove without their instructor and only in a small lake. They were VERY nervous but the dive guides were great. If you go with the ship they will take you to the RMS Rhone. It is a good dive and should be done at least once. If you are going to the Rhone, go in the morning as it gets really crowded by midday.

Rileybri
03-16-2009, 12:04
If you contact Low Key Water Sports Low Key Watersports - Diving in St. John, US Virgin Islands (http://www.divelowkey.com) I am sure they can hook it up for you. They are based out of St.John in Cruz bay but stop in Tortola to access the BVI customs and pick up divers. I was with them for an HMS.Rhone Dive in January and can highly recommend them as a dive operation. As far as dives in that area The 4 Brothers is a great dive as well as the Rhone. I would call them and see what they have going when you are there and decide from that. I am sure there are other more local options I just dont know them......

CamaroChick
03-16-2009, 12:40
not sure if they can work with the cruise ship schedule, but Dive BVI (Dive BVI - It's what we do! (http://www.divebvi.com)) is a great dive op! As others mentioned, you'll want to dive the Rhone (huge wooden shipwreck from the 1800s) if you get the chance.

heydn62
03-20-2009, 08:15
Thanks for all the advice. I've got a year to get things in place, but it's fun to go ahead and start planning.

This is the only stop on the cruise where we should be able to get some good diving in. All other stops are in the afternoon (San Juan, St. Maarten, Nassau). Not the best itinerary for diving.

scubadiver888
03-20-2009, 09:21
not sure if they can work with the cruise ship schedule, but Dive BVI (Dive BVI - It's what we do! (http://www.divebvi.com)) is a great dive op! As others mentioned, you'll want to dive the Rhone (huge wooden shipwreck from the 1800s) if you get the chance.

Actually, the RMS Rhone was one of the first iron hull ships powered by steam and sail. Because it is iron hull, the plates have rusted off and the frame of the ship is still mostly intact. It makes for a great swim through.

heydn62
03-20-2009, 09:45
not sure if they can work with the cruise ship schedule, but Dive BVI (Dive BVI - It's what we do! (http://www.divebvi.com)) is a great dive op! As others mentioned, you'll want to dive the Rhone (huge wooden shipwreck from the 1800s) if you get the chance.

Actually, the RMS Rhone was one of the first iron hull ships powered by steam and sail. Because it is iron hull, the plates have rusted off and the frame of the ship is still mostly intact. It makes for a great swim through.

I was actually just reading up a bit on the Rhone. It looks like vandals have looted and destroyed some things there in the past few years. Specifically, it looks like the huge wrenches have been taken and apparently someone tried to remove a port hole with a crowbar. Still sounds like a great dive though. Anyone see Octopi there?

scubadiver888
03-20-2009, 15:08
not sure if they can work with the cruise ship schedule, but Dive BVI (Dive BVI - It's what we do! (http://www.divebvi.com)) is a great dive op! As others mentioned, you'll want to dive the Rhone (huge wooden shipwreck from the 1800s) if you get the chance.

Actually, the RMS Rhone was one of the first iron hull ships powered by steam and sail. Because it is iron hull, the plates have rusted off and the frame of the ship is still mostly intact. It makes for a great swim through.

I was actually just reading up a bit on the Rhone. It looks like vandals have looted and destroyed some things there in the past few years. Specifically, it looks like the huge wrenches have been taken and apparently someone tried to remove a port hole with a crowbar. Still sounds like a great dive though. Anyone see Octopi there?

It is quite surprising that could happen. It is such a popular dive location. I went there on a cruise ship shore excursion. When we arrived at the site there was another dive boat and two people diving from a private boat. When we came up from our dive there was at least four more private boats and two dive boats getting ready to go down.

Hard to believe anyone could go in there and try taking stuff without someone catching them.

heydn62
03-20-2009, 16:11
not sure if they can work with the cruise ship schedule, but Dive BVI (Dive BVI - It's what we do! (http://www.divebvi.com)) is a great dive op! As others mentioned, you'll want to dive the Rhone (huge wooden shipwreck from the 1800s) if you get the chance.

Actually, the RMS Rhone was one of the first iron hull ships powered by steam and sail. Because it is iron hull, the plates have rusted off and the frame of the ship is still mostly intact. It makes for a great swim through.

I was actually just reading up a bit on the Rhone. It looks like vandals have looted and destroyed some things there in the past few years. Specifically, it looks like the huge wrenches have been taken and apparently someone tried to remove a port hole with a crowbar. Still sounds like a great dive though. Anyone see Octopi there?

It is quite surprising that could happen. It is such a popular dive location. I went there on a cruise ship shore excursion. When we arrived at the site there was another dive boat and two people diving from a private boat. When we came up from our dive there was at least four more private boats and two dive boats getting ready to go down.

Hard to believe anyone could go in there and try taking stuff without someone catching them.

Info I found was at Wikipedia.

from site:



Sadly the wreck has not been well treated over the years. Up until the late 1980s, a full set of wrenches was visible on the deep part (each wrench being about four feet long and weighing over 100 pounds). Today, all have been looted and none remain. Similarly the wreck feature the "lucky porthole", a brass porthole in the stern section which survived the storm intact and remains shiny by divers rubbing it for good luck, was disfigured in 2006 by an attempt to remove it with a crowbar. For many years a popular resident of the wreck was a 500 pound Goliath grouper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Goliath_grouper), but a local fisherman was allowed to catch and kill it despite the area being a national park. Today the wreck is visited by hundreds of tourists every day, most of whom are more circumspect in their treatment of the site.

scubadiver888
03-21-2009, 09:08
It is quite surprising that could happen. It is such a popular dive location. I went there on a cruise ship shore excursion. When we arrived at the site there was another dive boat and two people diving from a private boat. When we came up from our dive there was at least four more private boats and two dive boats getting ready to go down.

Hard to believe anyone could go in there and try taking stuff without someone catching them.

Info I found was at Wikipedia.

from site:



Sadly the wreck has not been well treated over the years. Up until the late 1980s, a full set of wrenches was visible on the deep part (each wrench being about four feet long and weighing over 100 pounds). Today, all have been looted and none remain. Similarly the wreck feature the "lucky porthole", a brass porthole in the stern section which survived the storm intact and remains shiny by divers rubbing it for good luck, was disfigured in 2006 by an attempt to remove it with a crowbar. For many years a popular resident of the wreck was a 500 pound Goliath grouper (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Goliath_grouper), but a local fisherman was allowed to catch and kill it despite the area being a national park. Today the wreck is visited by hundreds of tourists every day, most of whom are more circumspect in their treatment of the site.

Interesting article. I guess the site was not as popular as it is now. I've rubbed the 'lucky' porthole. I think I was there in 2007. I remember seeing a crack in the glass. I just assumed it had always been there.

I did see a teacup and silver spoon. So they haven't been stealing everything off it.

Rileybri
03-21-2009, 10:05
The Rhone is or was indeed one of the first Iron hulled Merchant ferries of its time. She was making a run between Venezuela and the Caribbean (her usual shipping rout) when a very large hurricane formed to the south of the B/US VI's As the winds and seas began to pick up the captain of the Rhone decided to have all of the occupants of her sister ship (anchored next to her) come over to the Rhone for Church services in an effort to keep everyone calm. They had been through big storms before and felt that they could safely ride out this one in the protected bay of Salt Islands where they were anchored. They had no way of knowing that this hurricane had grown to a powerful cat 5 and was heading directly for them. As the Storm approached the caption of the rhone ordered the crew to engage the steam engine in order to take some pressure off of the anchor line which was now straining under the currents and winds generated by the storm. By the time the eye wall approached Salt Island (reports put the eye passing directly over Salt Island.) the Rhone was running at full steam while at anchor just to maintain position. Unfortunately at the height of the storm the HMS Rhone took a large wave over her side which flooded many of the lower compartments. When this wave of water reached the boiler room and now red hot boiler it blew the stern section of the Rhone sky high almost completely destroying it. The Bow section now detached from the stern drifted a small distance 100-200' before sinking almost completely intact on the sea floor. the few survivors were able to swim the short distance to Salt Island to wait out the storm. WHen the clouds had cleared and the sum shone again, many of the Rhone's dead were washed up on the beach of Salt Islands (there is still a cemetery on the island for the unlucky souls who did not make it ashore alive.)
Today the wreck is basically two separate dives and dive sights (usually done as a two tank dive in the same day). The Bow has been cleared of many obstructions and possible snags. Partially by the dive oppressors to make it a safer dive, and mostly by the sea claiming the iron to rust and currents. Like many historic wreck sighs this one was victimized by vandalizing souvenir hunters. I think it is now to small an area and to popular a dive sight for anyone to get away with anything like taking a porthole off of her. The Bow is basically a wreck dive with potentially very large fish and eels in the swim troughs. You are never a few feet away from an exit point when "in" the wreck. you can also choose to swim over the wreck as well and not go through. Its up to you.
The Stern is more of a debris pile/ man made reef. This is where you will see the local residents in numbers! Bring a small BU light with you as you don't really get an idea of how vivid the corals are with out bringing a bit of light down with you. It is also in this section of the wreck that the "lucky" spoon and porthole is it is also very easy to find your self mistakingly joining the wrong group so pay attention to your people.
As I said I dove with Low Key out of St.John. We stopped for about an hour in Tortola for the captain to go ashore and deal with customs. The had all of the gear on the boat so all I needed was M/F/S and a 2/3 shortie. All of there BC's were new Seaquest's (had an octo retainer on every one) and the regs were well maintained. you consul dangles but that is so the DM can swim up and check on you at any time. Having done a number of excursion of this sort in the "islands" I can say that for me the dive is only part if the trip and the "local knowledge" of the crew is equally as important. We had 8 people on a 20 person boat and a very knowledgeable mate. By the time we go to the Rohne, I felt like I know not only the ship were were going to dive but the history of the area as well.

Here is a short video (http://www.scubadivingtube.com/play.php?vid=737) I shot of my Rhone dive this January. Also if you have never seen the movie The Deep, rent it and see it before you go. Although the movie takes place in Bermuda, it is filmed on the Rhone. A true Nick Nolty classic!

hope that helps,


Brian D.

heydn62
03-21-2009, 10:53
Here is a short video (http://www.scubadivingtube.com/play.php?vid=737) I shot of my Rhone dive this January. Also if you have never seen the movie The Deep, rent it and see it before you go. Although the movie takes place in Bermuda, it is filmed on the Rhone. A true Nick Nolty classic!

hope that helps,


Brian D.


Thanks for sharing the video. I've never seen "The Deep". I'm putting that on my list of things to do.

rednose83
11-08-2009, 12:02
Since your cruise isn't until April, I'll go ahead and post. We visited Tortola in August via cruise ship. We weren't certified then so we didn't dive. If you have any non-divers in your group, they might want to take a look at the Virgin Gorda Baths. The site was beautiful and makes for a good day of sand, sun, and water. There are restaurants on the property and lockers.