Dive #186 - Rich Torkington's Dive Log
Copyright 2010 Rich Torkington Mesa, Arizona

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Bottom Time to Date:


Dive Info:

Dive Start:

Bottom Time:
48 minutes

Maximum Depth:
82 feet

Safety Stop:
3 minutes

Beginning Air:
3000 psi

Ending Air:
1100 psi

Weather Conditions:
Clear 92F

Surface Conditions:

Surface Water Temperature:

Bottom Water Temperature:

60+ feet
* * * *
July 26,
Linda, Janel, and John
Cuan Law Liveaboard
British Virgin islands
Linda and Janel hover above the RMS Rhone
Videograph by Rich Torkington in BVI 2004 
Dive Journal: 7/26/2004 Our day starts with the ships bell calling for breakfast, and Dan has prepared another great feast. We are then treated to the days first dive at the much-hallowed RMS Rhone.

The Rhone is a wildly popular dive site, a 310 foot long British luxury ship sunk in a hurricane on Tuesday October 29, 1867. Given its age, the ship is in excellent shape, being made from thick walled steel. We learn that the ship was built in the same Millwall IronWorks that later built the Titanic, and it is one of the first ships to utilize a steam-powered propeller instead of a paddle. The ship is fractured into several sections, and todays dive will explore the bow, which lies in deeper waters off Salt Island.

Were diving today with a professional videographer named John McIntyre, who with his wife has joined us by dinghy. John is known especially for his diving reports and film documentary in the Red Sea, and for his work with the BBC (see www.johnmcintyre.tv for more information). This is one of Johns last trips to the Caribbean to collect footage for a project video documention of the wrecks of the Caribbean, and he will be filming the Rhone site today.

We descend past more moon jellyfish as the remains of the large ship come into focus. Im intrigued by these lacy creatures because I have not encountered them too often. The ship is encrusted with beautiful multicolored sponges and corals, and we begin our dive with a swim through part of the remaining hull. John McIntyre is already in there shooting video, and his lights cast interesting shadows around the interior structures.
We saw these beautiful moon jellyfish often.
Videograph by Rich Torkington in BVI 2004 

Fang, a huge resident barracuda, is hanging around. Mr. McIntyre locates a big lobster and spends some time filming it with the wreck in the background. When hes done, Johnny moves in with our video setup and gets some of the same footage. Janel discovers two grunts hanging around the mast who seem to encircle a small fish with their gaping mouths.

Addendum facts about the RMS Rhone:

Copied from http://www.distinctivevoyages.com/rms-rhone.htm

The Royal Mail Steam ship was commissioned for the Royal Mail Packet Company in 1865 to carry mail and passengers from England to the Caribbean. More than 300 passenger cabins were included within her 310 foot length. Its design was unique, for it had both sail and steam power with one of the first steam-driven cast propellors. Captain Woolley, the Captain on the day, decided to anchor in Peter Island's Great Harbor due to an outbreak of yellow fever in St. Thomas.

On the morning of October 29th, 1867 he awoke to barometers falling fast and dark black clouds over Tortola. As it was October and hurricane season was thought to be over, he assumed it was just an early winter storm. Captain Woolley told the crew to fire up the boilers just in case and when the storm hit he needed full ahead even at anchor to hold position. The fearful roar of the hurricane blew howling winds from the North Northwest. A lull came - or as we know it today "the eye of the hurricane". Captain Wolley tried to make a break for open water away from the rocks and land. He headed out between Peter and Salt Islands. Most people onboard couldn't swim so crew were ordered to tie in all the passengers (sealing their fate). The second part of the hurricane hit with black skies and huge seas. Captain Wolley like all good English Captains had a cup of tea with a dash of rum, stirring it with his silver spoon as he navigated his ship through the channel past Salt Island. The rain was blinding so he tried to get a better look outside when a big wave washed him overboard off the bridge. He was never to be seen again.

Rhone was slowly pushed toward the rocks and finally hit Black Rock Point. The cold water hit the hot boiler causing a big explosion splitting the Rhone in half. The stern sank in 35' while the bow drifted slightly deeper into 80'. The vessel now rests in two main sections off Salt Island, near Black Rock.

Today the Rhone is considered to be one of the world's best wreck dives.

Mares Avanti Quattro
Oceanic Vo 200
80 ft3 Al
SeaQuest Spectrum 4
Dive Type:
BOAT, Cuan Law
Body of Water:
Caribbean Sea
U S Divers
3mm full wetsuit
Spectrum XR2
plus Oceanic
Slimline octopus
8 lb
Water Type:
Video Equipment:
Sony DCR-TRV11 digital handycam in Top Dawg housing