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I am going to St. Thomas for the first time in January, and I will have several days to dive. I am looking for advice on dive operators....who is good, special things to watch for, etc. One day I am going to the wreck of the Rhone, and I know about taking a passport since it is British territory. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide. Safe diving!
Here is something I posted awhile back: it may answer many of your questions. Chris Sawyer dives the Rhone at least once a week--and, in the past, no passport was needed since you stayed offshore. Still true, I think!
I use to live in St Thomas and everyone who dived regularly was a part of the St Thomas dive club....which happens to be by a cool hotel with a great bar I'm seeing others here who say it was all for tourists but I didn't find that to be the case.
Let me do some checking with friends still stuck on the Rock and see if I can get some further details for you.
Last edited by loridmc.com; December 11th, 2002 at 01:25 AM.
here is a copy of what I posted in another thread:
On St. Thomas it was a completely different story. I abondoned my wife to her favorite thing - spending our money shopping! I endulged myself in some of the best diving of my life.
There were three separate scuba companies represented right on the docks where the cruise ship put in. The big commercialized representative on the island was Underwater Safaris. Why they had two shops on the same pier - and the guy in the shop I spent a 1/2 hour speaking with told me both shops independantly hold their own - insane. Anyway, they motor divers over to the east side of the island - the Atlantic side as they say, even though the whole island is really in the Carribean. The visibility is pretty much infinite on the east side, but it can get around 100 feet or less on the airport side of the island - where the cruise ships put in. To be frank with you I wanted the wildest type of diving possible - so I decided to abandon all the cruise line sponsored dive shops like Underwater Safaris and went instead with a little mom & pop shop run called Admiralty Dive out of the Holiday Inn Windward Passage Hotel in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. You can contact them through their website - www.admiraltydive.com
Anyway Marty and Portia Martinez did a fantastic job with their shop, boat, and the quality team they have assembled. On the first two dives in the morning John (5 years with the shop) was the instructor/divemaster while the owner Marty played captain. Then in the afternoon Marty worked in the shop, John captained the boat and and a new instructor/divemaster Brian joined us to conducted two more dives. The crew was awesome and it really felt like the family type of diving I was looking for. They were loaded with great stories during our surface intervals and everyone had such a great time. This team and others on the islands put California to shame regarding Project Aware. We motored way out of our way on 2 occasions during the day to pick up beer cans and plastic bags floating on the ocean surface. Unlike St. Maarten which looked run down, St. Thomas was paradise that exceeded my wildest expectations. They really take environmental protection to the hilt here.
Dive 1 - W.I.T. Crete 400ft long cement water carrier
WIT stands for West Indies Territory (or something like that) This wreck was in a little over 100 feet of water. We mostly swam around the perimeter of the boat - but we did penetrate the wreck in two locations the galley and where the stern of the boat had been removed. Apparently this completely concrete boat was used to bring water to the island years ago, but after her commission was through she was sunk straight out about 15 minutes boat ride from Charlotte Amalie. This is a rare dive they do, because of current and ocean surface. But this day the ocean was glass calm - I've never seen it like that before! As we were approaching the ship I could completely make out the entire boat from the surface. How could you ever mis-navigate in conditions like these!
Dive 2 - Saba Rock, shallow reef dive
This was the most fantastic dive I have ever done. There was so much I saw on this one dive I'm still remembering the moments even now. The dive never went below 30 feet, but during those beautiful 58 minutes - I was in complete heaven. Saw a school of barracuda, every kind of sponge and coral, the colors were overwhelming - I kept gasping over and over again. We went through canyons and crevaces covered all the way to the surface with every color imaginable. Lobsters, crabs, shrimp, and fish and the visibility was what seemed like 200 feet. The parrot fish kept darting around biting off coral - you could hear their nips off the reef like like little brick-like popping noises. The ocean was glass calm and running about 78 degrees. This was another one of those sites that admiralty rarely dives unless conditions are this good. I was so privileged to be here on this particular day. I was so relaxed that when the dive was called at the end of an hour because one of the other divers had reached 500psi, I looked down and my Suunto Cobra told me that I could have dove more than another hour on this 80cft cylinder. I was so relaxed under there I felt almost comatose - like a dream world.
Dive 3 - Miss Opportunity hospital ship converted to an office
This was an amazing dive. By this point the visibility had dropped to around 60 feet (collective ah from all those California divers who get excited when vis is 20 feet). This ship turned office complex used to sit on blocks in a parking lot then a tropical storm came along flooded the parking lot and lifted her off the blocks and dumped her into the harbor. They lifted her up and took her much further out preparred her and let her sink again. She landed funny 3/4 upside down in 90+ feet. While we were down we looked hard for the 600 lbs Jew fish they claimed was a regular on this wreck, but we didn't see her on the dive. It was an arenaline-pumping dive. I was a little disappointed that Brian our DM so readily took us down to 90 feet then with almost no light we penetrated straight into the wreck. These two other folks we were with on this dive had neither spare air or dive lights and the wreck was dark. I gave my backup light to the father of the father-son pair I was with so that we had at least 2 lights going in side. I had my bright primary with me, and lit the inside up like the sun. All this vis was so unfamiliar to me. The actual pentration point was in 96 feet of water and because of our already accumulated nitrogen the other two divers and I, unlike Brain (on his first dive of the day) - we only had about 7 minutes of NDL at this point. We got as low as 1 minute on this timer before we exited the wreck. Needless to say I was distressed about this apparent abandon of all the rules that I've heard so much about in these resort settings and was now experiencing first hand. I did get on my soapbox back on the board the boat though and told John about my opinion on all of this. Anyway it was fantastic otherwise.
Dive 4 - Chrysler reef dive
Chrysler was a corporate yacht that fell victim to a squall and ended up on the rocks in the late 60s. Time and hurricanes have reaped their toll and have scattered the remains among the colorful reef, with swim throughs, a large population of tropical fish, lobsters, occasional sharks and turtles, making this 50-foot dive a beautiful and exciting dive. Well that was the discription from the website anyway but you could only loosely call this a wreck dive because the wreck was so scattered into fragments. Mainly I spent time taking pictures with my cheesy little disposable Kodak camera with no flash and depth limit of 35 feet. None of the pictures came out very well. But I did get to use them to share stories with my wife later.