In attempting to outrun the San Narciso hurricane on 29 October, 1867, the RMS Rhone smashed against Black Rock Point on Salt Island and broke in half, following an explosion in which her hull was breached and seawater hit her superheated boilers.
The wreck has become the most renowned dive-site in the BVI, and one of the Caribbean’s best wreck dives. It’s located at 10-24m, so easily accessible to divers of all levels.
A two-tank dive is best to fully explore the bow and stern sections, which are about 30m apart at a 90° angle, while a night-dive is spectacular and not to be missed. The wreck and surrounding area became the BVI’s first national marine park in 1980.
The 94m-long Rhone was one of the first iron-hulled ships, powered by both sail and steam.
As well as her two masts, she had a single compound steam-engine to drive a gigantic three-bladed bronze propeller, only the second bronze propeller ever built. Today this provides a great swim-through and photo opportunity.
The wreck is home to diverse sea life, including Fang the barracuda, octopuses, nurse sharks, turtles, moray eels, reef sharks, pufferfish and occasional rays and dolphins. There are many coral gardens, cleaning stations and nurseries.
Highlights of the bow section include the foremast and crow’s nest, main deck supports, bowsprit, exposed keel, lifeboat davits, encrusted signalling cannon and the condenser, the deepest point at 23-24m.
The stern section, between 10 and 18m, includes the aft mast, boilers, deck-supports that appear as vertical columns, wrench set, embedded silver teaspoon, gearbox, drive-shaft, propeller and “lucky porthole” – give it three rubs and make a wish.
On your next trip to the BVI, you’ll find us on Tortola at Hodge’s Creek Marina or the Moorings or on Cooper Island (or arrange a rendezvous) and can join us on one of our custom Newton dive-boats for an epic dive on this wreck.