Day 3


The first dive today was the wreck of then Rhone. The R.M.S Rhone was a British mail and passenger ship built in 1865. It was the most advanced ship of its time, with a coal driven propeller powering the ship in addition to conventional sails. It was one of two ships ever called unsinkable. However, in September of 1867 at the very end of hurricane season, it was anchored off shore when it was caught off guard buy a hurricane. It weathered the first part of the storm with another ship, the Conway, until they were in the eye of the storm. When the crew realized this, the Conway pulled up its anchor and sailed to Tortolla. Unfortunately, the Conway’s anchor became stuck and it either broke or the crew cut it. The crew then attempted to get it to safety as quickly as possible by stoking the coal boiler as much as possible. This caused the boiler to overheat, melting the metal and snapping the ship in two. At this time, it was customary to lock all passengers below deck for their safety and so that the crew could move about the deck. When it went down, only the crew and one passenger managed to escape. That one passenger was an Italian man who escaped from his locked cabin. His port hole is exposed in the wreck and it is considered good luck to rub it three times clockwise. We were able to do this when we dived the wreck. We also swam through the main area of the ship while diving the wreck. After returning to the boat for a brief surface interval, we headed to the next dive site, Ginger Steps. At this site, we descended to the bottom and then kneeled in a sandy patch to wait for sharks. We knelt with our hands by our sides and tried to make as little disturbance as possible. After only a couple minutes we had several Caribbean reef sharks circling us. The largest was about three feet long and gracefully swam around us, cutting through the water effortlessly. After a few minutes, the sharks lost interest and swam away, but not before I got some good video and a couple pictures. We then explored around the coral reefs and headed back to the boat. As we were doing our decompression stop under the boat at 20 feet, one of the sharks came out of nowhere and checked us out one last time before we got low on air and had to surface. After the dives, we went to Cooper Island for lunch. Cooper Island is very small in comparison to the others in the BVI and only has a resort, a few shops, and a restaurant. We went to the restaurant for mahi mahi fish and chips. It was extremely good, definitely the best I had ever had. After lunch, we went to their coffee and ice cream shop for the best ice cream in the BVI. Even on an island in the middle of the ocean without a city power grid or water supply the prices at the upscale shops were better than those on Greenville in Dallas which impressed me. We also went snorkeling near the marina at Cooper Island. I saw an 18 inch turtle which was tagged with the same ones we will be tagging turtles with tomorrow. Later that evening back at our resort we had dinner on the beach while watching the sun set. I had forgotten my water bottle on the boat yesterday so me and everyone else who had forgotten something lined up for a dance-off for the entertainment of the instructors and the rest of my peers. Predictably, the seven of us were extremely poor dancers. I claimed sixth place and I don’t think that I will be leaving anything anywhere any time soon. When it was dark, everyone received a flashlight and entered the water for a night snorkel. At first it was a little bit unsettling, especially because we had been warned that box jellyfish are attracted to light and cause excruciating stings. However, after a little while we grew used to it and explored the coral. Many of the fish that had been elusive during the day like goatfish were roaming around in the ocean. I also saw shrimp swimming near the surface. When we covered our lights we could see bioluminescent organisms in the water. I also spotted a large octopus. Not long afterwards we were all swimming up to it. He had something in his tentacles so he just slowly scooted along the ocean floor. We were able to swim only inches away without it moving.