Scuba diving is offered on selected crewed charter yachts in the BVI and are equipped to cater for your diving demands. With extensive experience on all the dive locations, your dive-master or instructor will take you down to the beautiful Caribbean waters to experience a diverse variety of fish, coral and other sea creatures. Ever wanted to dive a wreck or glide over the most amazing under water floral arrangements? Here is a hand picked favorite and one of the most famous dive sites in the world.
The Wreck of RMS Rhone just off Salt Island is a very popular wreck dive. The Rhone sank on 29 October 1867 in a hurricane, killing 123 people.
The Rhone 310 feet (94m) long with a 40 foot (12m) beam was a steam ship rigged with two masts. She could do 14 knots and covered a new route from Southampton to Rio de Janeiro from 1863.
Only the second ship ever at the time, The Rhone had a bronze propeller and also very innovative having a surface condenser in order to re-use water in her boilers and steam engine. The Rhone had the capacity to carry 253 first class, 30 second class and 30 third class passengers. The Rhone was transferred to the Caribbean route in January 1867, which was a more lucrative and prestigious option.
On 19 October 1867 RMS Rhone came alongside RMS Conway, her sister ship in Great Harbour, Peter Island for bunkering. The Captain of the Rhone got worried that the second half of a hurricane then known as “San Narciso Hurricane” would be more ferocious and the two captains decided to transfer all the passengers from RMS Conway over to the Rhone because she was “unsinkable”. The Conway departed first but got caught by the tail of the storm and lost all hands when she sank at the south side of Tortola. The Rhone with her passengers tied to their beds, which was a normal practice departed for the open seas.
Captain Wooley ordered the Rhone’s anchor to be cut because it was stuck and still lies in Great Harbour to this day. She made her way between Black Rock Point of Salt Island and Dead Chest Island. Between the two islands lay Blonde Rock. Giving Blonde Rock a wide berth, Captain Wooley didn’t expect the second half of the hurricane to change the direction of the wind and the Rhone was thrown into Black Rock Point and that is where she sank. The cold water came into contact with the boilers and she exploded. Her bow sank in 80 feet (24m) of water and the stern 30 feet (9m). The Rhone had 146 people plus the passengers of the Conway on-board, of which only 23 crew survived. The bodies were buried on Salt Island.
The area around the Rhone was declared a national park in 1980. She has lots of marine life and is quite safe due to the wreck being very open. There are large open spaces inside the wreck to swim through. The wreck is covered with coral and fish and even has a local barracuda named Fang as a regular visitor. There are eels, octopus, lobster and even sea turtles to see on occasion. The movie “The Deep” shot in 1977 featured the wreck of the Rhone.
Many wrenches were still visible over the years but were stolen over time by collectors. There is still a “lucky porthole”, a brass porthole with the glass in tact, which is kept shiny by divers rubbing it for good luck. The Rhone can be a 2 tank dive for the adventurous doing the bow section first and after a surface interval, explore the rest of the wreck in shallower water. The deepest section is around 80 ft and the propeller can be free dived at 28 ft. This is a dive well worth getting ticked off your bucket list.