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Thread: Cruise stop in Tortola

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Burlington, VT
    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 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.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Conyers, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by Rileybri View Post
    Here is a short video 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.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    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.

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