Okay, it is time I tell you some more about the amazing wrecks we have here in the BVI. There are a whole bunch of them, so I will just stick to telling you about the ones we dive the most!
The past month the winds have seemed to have stayed down; we got the chance to go out to my favorite wreck dive in the BVI. We didn’t just go once; we managed to get out there about 4 times in one week!
To get to her we headed out in the morning with our GPS ready in hand to go and find the Chikuzen. The Chikuzen, a Korean refrigerator ship, which sank while being towed out to Anegada in the 80’ies and lays about 13 miles from the Bitter End. She lies in the middle of nowhere in 80 feet of water with tons of life all around! Hence we need perfect weather conditions to go!
As usual it started as soon as we descended down the mooring line, about 15 curious barracuda came to see what all the fuss was about! When we looked up to the surface, from the bottom, we could see the dive boat and underneath we counted no less than 25 barracuda. It is weird, normally adult barracuda are solitary, but for some reason on this wreck they like to hang out together. I must admit it always makes me giggle when I see the faces of our guests once they see these large fish just sitting motionless watching there every move.
Making our way around the ship we encountered angelfish, trunkfish, often we see southern stingrays and eagle rays, a snapper so big we first thought it was a jewfish, cobia, the resident jewfish or goliath grouper sometimes comes out of hiding to show himself! A massive dinosaur looking turtle weighing in at about 250 lbs can also be seen, every now and again a reef shark or black tip comes to check us out and often some good size amber jacks seem to be playing with the barracuda. I can keep on going on and on and on…No need to say I don’t per se dive this wreck for the wreck itself, but the marine life on it is just spectacular!
One of our other amazing wreck dives out here is the Rhone. She is known as the best wreck in the Caribbean and possibly the world! For those who don’t know the Rhone, it is a 310 ft steamship that sunk off Salt Island due to a hurricane on 29 October 1867.
When we make our way out to the Rhone, we stay there and do both our morning dives on her! The first dive is the bow, which is as good as intact and lays in about 75 ft. She makes for an amazing historical tour showing the bow, swim through, the pillars, crow’s nest, porthole swim through…
After listening to Ben telling the story of how the Rhone sunk we do the second dive on her stern section. The second dive nicely contrasts the first one, as it is more mangled metal, teaming with marine life! Once again we take you on a tour showing you the dance floor, the lucky porthole, propeller swim through and Captain Willies sipping spoon!
At the lucky porthole everybody has to rub it 3 times. The first time is for luck, the second time for love and the third time so you will come back to the Rhone one day. Or at least so the story goes and hey, we keep on going back so I guess it must work.
Wreck Alley at Cooper Island is definitely worth the visit! It is not just one, but 4 wrecks in a row! Lying in around 80 ft you can find 4 give or take 90 ft tug boats!
First you will see the Mary L and Pat who were sunk first in the early 90’ies. They didn’t do a great job (or fantastic job depending how you look at it) as they are actually touching each other! Everyone just loves the toilet which sits next to them and this of course is one of the must have shots when underwater cameras are present! Next is the Beata, who was sunk in the mid 90’ies. She sits upright and you can actually swim through the wheelhouse! Last sunk was the Joey D or Island Seal, they did not do the best of jobs here as she landed upside down, making am great view of her bottom and propeller!
When you dive Wreck Alley, make sure you keep your eyes up towards the surface as horse-eyed jacks and eagle rays like to fly by, while the southern stingrays like to rest in the sand watching the fields of garden eels play hide and seek as divers come by. Sometimes you can encounter a jewfish or goliath grouper who seems to hide under the Joey D! On the way back to the dive boat you will find big schools of blue chromis swirling the beautiful reef which slopes up from the sand to where the mooring sits!
The Plane wreck at Coral Gardens, Great Dog Island is our closest and shallowest wreck!
She sits a good 10-minute swim, over the beautiful coral heads, east from the mooring line in about 55 ft of sand! This fuselage was sunk here in the nineties a couple of years after she went down off the runway at Beef Island! Wings were cut off, seats taken out, which makes for a nice swim through! Garden Eels keep her company together with some barracuda. Sometimes green moray eels visit here, coral crabs like to go and hang out too.
These are just some of the magical dives the BVI has to offer!
All photos shown in this blog were taken by one of our guest: Justin Dubowitz.
Thanks Justin for letting us use them!