Monday, February 25, 2008

Wreck of the Rhone

(Submitted by Alicia)

Saturday's conversation included talk of sailing and diving. Alicia wanted to share these pictures about the Wreck of the Rhone with Dr. Mike. Mike is taking his daughter scuba diving this spring. (From the website

Royal Mail Ship Rhone
Built - 1865 Cornwall, England
Sank - 1867 Salt Island, BVI

If you only have time for one dive trip in the BVI, the RMS Rhone is it. Dive BVI have been leading dives on this spectacular wreck since 1975. Numerous artifacts deposited on October 29, 1867 are still visible today. You'll also see where the 1977 film classic The Deep was shot and get to swim through the amazingly intact bow section as well as under the stern near the large 15 ft propeller. You really get a feel for the size of the RMS Rhone when you swim down the length of the massive driveshaft towards the engine box and gears. No matter how many times you dive on the Rhone, you can still find something new.

At least two dives are required to experience all the Rhone has to offer. Your first dive is 25 - 30 minutes at 75 feet on the bow section. After your mandatory 3 minute safety stop, you'll be treated to the story of the Rhone. This is probably the most educational surface interval of your life! Our instructors have put a lot of research into the history of this ship and take great pride in their story-telling abilities! You'll learn a lot about the Rhone, the BVI, animal life, and many other things from them.

The second dive begins at 75 feet in the mid section where you'll see a set of giant marine wrenches. A giant green moray and several octopus live in this portion of the wreck. It's generally considered good luck if you see one of them on your dive. Then it's off to see the incredible variety of artifacts that still remain on the wreck after 139 + years. This wreck has been featured in most, if not all, of the scuba magazines out there. National Geographic, BBC, and The Travel Channel have all been here to see what it's all about. Combining the Rhone's history with our staff's passion for diving the wreck makes for a fun and exciting day on the water.

Below is an excerpt from "The Royal Mail Steamer Rhone"
by George & Luana Marler
Port Of Spain Gazette
Virgin Islands
May 1870

"We paid a visit to the Murphy's about two weeks ago, they are at Salt Island diving various things out of the wreck of the Steamer RHONE. I have never seen a diving dress, it was a novelty to all of us; the children were delighted to see Murphy in his dress, he certainly cut an awful figure, but when he went overboard and we saw him sinking, sinking until we lost sight of him it was something horrible - the water is 17 fathoms and you can't see the bottom - he was gone for hours, he sent up 12 bales of Cotton and various other things; amongst other matters, a fine Scull, which must have belonged to a very large man - the cotton is as good as the day it went down; he also saved the anchor and chains and lots of copper.

While he was down he sent a message up to invite the ladies down into the saloon of the RHONE. I took a slice of lamb over and we had a first rate dinner. When dinner was nearly ready, Murphy came up, rested for a few minutes and said, 'Now ladies, as I have nothing good to offer you, I will take a look into the other half of the ship (she is broken in two pieces) and see what can be got'. They begged him not to go but off he went and in half an hour we had as much Champagne, Beer and Soda Water, Lemonade, Seltzer Water and Brandy as we knew what to do with, the liquors were as good as they were the first day and it is nearly three years since they have been down; the Champagne was first rate, as cool as possible, we drank it out of tumblers as we did not have champagne glasses.

Three of the Murphy brothers came to St. Thomas soon after the Hurricane of 1867 and have been there ever since. When the RHONE was wrecked they saved the species and bullion out of her and got a large sum of money from Mr. Cameron, some $20,000 for their part, the Steamer had on board some £60,000 in species and bullion. A few months ago the second brother was drowned in St. Thomas harbour, he went down into the hold on the Liverpool Packet and by some means something went wrong and the poor fellow was drowned; the two remaining brothers felt his loss very much. Murphy tells me he sees an enormous Jew fish in the saloon of the RHONE, but the fellow won't come near him .."

1 comment:

Mike said...

Whoo-hoo, I can taste the salt now (and I don't mean on an Everything Bagel)! I just e-mailed divebvi to reserve plenty of time with them. Thanks Sue and Alicia!!