H. Droese -Day 3


The day had finally come when we got todo our big wreck dive, the RMS Rhone. As we went over to the site, Beth gave us a rich history on how the Royal Mail Ship met its demise. Originally it was, as a designated mail ship, moved to work the Caribbean Line in order to transport valuable goods such as champagne, gold, and luxury items. However, because moving said items wasn’t exactly profitable, the costs for the journey were offset by outfitting the ship with passenger quarters and moving English tourists down to see the islands. Before one ship became two pieces, it laid at about 310ft. and was equipped with new technology of the time, a boiler and propellers, as well as a mast and sail as a backup. On the day of October 29th, the end of the hurricane season, the barometric pressure in the area dropped suddenly but because of the date nobody suspected their ultimate demise, the second worst hurricane to ever hit the islands. In port the Rhone was docked with gangplanks alongside another ship, the Conway, in order for the Comway’s passengers to witness the “unsinkable” beauty of the Rhone. When the storm blew in and the ships eventually made it to the eye of the hurricane, the Conway pulled anchor and headed towards another nearby island to better ride out the storm. The Rhone raised anchor but got caught in the storm and set off-course, eventually crashing and sinking in about ten seconds. The resulting stress on the hull disturbed the boiler enough that it broke and put out extremely hot water around the boat and tearing itself apart. After the end of the wreck and the recovery of people, only one Italian passenger and all crew but Captain Willy survived. Luck is also said to be with porthole twenty six on the stern section, the room of the single living passenger of the wreck. Also visible on the stern section are the large boat wrenches used in the ship. But one might ask, how would you see the huge wrenches if there’s a surrounding hull? The simple answer to that would be the lazy American navy. When cruise ships set out to the island, the still visible mast of the sunken Rhone was bad advertisement for the incoming ships. So, with the task of blowing up the mast, the navy set out with dynamite from Tortola in order to get rid of the eyesore. Except, instead of only using what they needed and making a return trip to ditch the extra dynamite, they used all of it, totaling the stern section and sending debris everywhere. During the dive I was thoroughly impressed as I got to see a ray, and a lobster right in the edge if the swim through of the bow section. On the second dive, Ginger steps, my group was lucky enough to notice multiple magnificent sharks during the dive as we sat in the sand. Further into the dive at about 40ft. was a peacock flounder hiding in the sands, extremely disguised until Beth pointed him out to the rest of us, and also near it was another ray. After stopping for fish and chips as lunch, we did a massive group snorkel in the bay of Cooper Island. During that we got the opportunity so witness a hawksbill turtle and large amounts of kelp and fire coral. After returning and a hefty amount of downtime, we went on a night snorkel off the beach of Guavaberry. During the snorkel we witnessed two octopi, a sleeping parrotfish, lobster, and I even found an extremely small juvenile crab. After the events today, I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and turtle tagging.