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Dive Review of 6-Paq/Plumeria villa, Catered-To-Vacation in
Virgin Islands/St John

January, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Deborah Swackhamer, MN, US
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 5901
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Caymans, Belize, Guadeloupe, St Lucia, Statia, Saba, Bonaire, Curacao,
Tobago, BVI, Turks and Caicos, Great Barrier Reef, Guam, Yap, Palau,
Pohnpei, Papua New Guinea, Fiji
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
79   to 79    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 65    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
all dives were led  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
2 stars
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
1 stars    
1 stars   
1 stars    
My husband and I and another couple just completed a trip to St. John, US
Virgin Islands. We rented a villa through Catered To Vacation Homes and did
several days of diving while there. The villa was everything the
advertising promised and more  we were very satisfied with our
accommodations and arrangements  luxurious yet affordable for two couples.
It was up in Gifft Hill neighborhood, with beautiful view of St. Thomas. We
pre-arranged our diving with 6-Paq Divers, a one-woman operation run by
Collette Diede. It was an unmitigated disaster, and we ended up aborting
our 4th day of diving and dived with Low Key Divers the remainder of our
stay. The first day the four of us plus one more were the divers, and
Collette had a sprained shoulder and another injury to her wrist and so was
unable to lift anything or help anyone with gearing up, etc. This presented
a safety problem all by itself, as she was not capable of any rescue or
emergency work had it been necessary. She had a mate with her, who as it
turns out was incapacitated with seasickness (he forgot his medication) and
had been up all night and so spent the 5 hours semi-conscience on one of
the two benches or throwing up over the side. Her boat is a small runabout
with dual outboards; it is a self-bailing design but she did not have the
one-way flaps in the scuppers so when at the dock or dive site the boat had
6 inches of water in it. There was no organized place to put ones gear 
so fins, masks, wetsuits and regulators were handed over from the dock to
the mate and promptly dropped into the pool of water. It was chaotic, there
was little room to maneuver or to keep your gear safe. The diving involved
both her and her mate, except the first day when the mate was too sick 
this meant that the boat was left unattended at a remote dive mooring with
divers in the water, something that is considered unsafe practice by most
boat captains. Since the mate was sick that first day, we gave her another
few days to see if things got better  during this time the plastic
attachment to a mask was broken, the plastic attachment to a fin was
broken, and a BCD buckle was broken  all plastic pieces broken by the pile
of gear on the boat that is frequently stepped on. We have never seen
breakage like this before. Over night she kept gear in a little storage
area on the boat; it was tossed in on top of her spare boat batteries that
we finally discovered were kept in there.The fourth day my husband and I
were the only divers. Collette took us out to a site where one does a drop
and pick up near a rock outcrop but there is no mooring  we were to be
dropped and dive by ourselves and then surface and indicated we needed a
pickup - pretty straightforward, we have done these kinds of dives before.
However, two things happened  she managed to get her stern line caught in
the propeller of one of her engines as she was preparing to drop us  as
troubling as this was, even more troubling was that she and her mate
indicated this was not an uncommon occurrence, and they had a system for
responding (mate gets in water and cuts stern line with knife). It was
typical of her disorganized operation that she never coiled or secured her
bow or stern lines. She never did rig another stern line, another
indication of her poor boatmanship. This snarling of her line was
unnerving, as she needed full control of her boat to drop and pick us up in
rough seas and a situation where she needed to keep the engines running.
But, we were suited up and ready to go - she puts us on the gunnels ready
to be dropped (backroll entry) when I see that I have no pressure  they
never turned on my tank  and they were about to put me over in high seas
with no air. As an experienced diver I always check my pressure right
before entry, but they should have turned on, or at least checked my air. A
less experienced diver could have been put in danger needlessly. This was
the final in a string of behaviors that indicated she was not a careful
boat captain or safe divemaster, we lost any faith that she could
successfully put us in and retrieve us from this particular dive, and we
aborted it. Just for perspective, in twenty years of diving, with 500+
dives each, we have only aborted a dive ONCE before also for safety
reasons. So, we lost a great deal of money but felt we could not continue
to dive with her, for safety reasons. We told her we were not returning,
she had a series of excuses (another characteristic of hers was never to
take responsibility), and we went to Low Key Divers. They were highly
professional, friendly, had three DMs and a captain for a boat with 12-14
divers, and very organized. While we typically like small, personal
operations over the larger ones, it was heaven compared to our experience
with 6-Paq. Anyone who dives with her is diving with an unsafe and
incompetent operation. 

As for the diving itself  reefs are OK, but silted in pretty significantly
(possible runoff from storms). Not the best of the Caribbean, but always
nice to see what is underwater. We had done the Rhone on a previous trip to
BVI, so focused on reefs within USVI - Stephens Cay, Mingo Cay, Calf and
Cow, Grass Cay. Shallow dives (ave depth 35 ft) and VERY short intervals on
two tank dives (they do a 45 minute interval starting with first returned
diver; hardly time to get warmed up). Saw lots of turtles, and typical
array of reef fishes including plentiful trumpetfish, butterfly fish,
grouper, spotted drum, parrot fish, porcupine fish, damselfish, wrasses,
chromis, jacks, etc. Very few angelfish, and not as many eels as the
habitat would suggest.

Great places to eat  from super expensive if you want fancy (but not
necessarily best food!) to the local barbeque stands (Tonys up on Gifft
Hill, or Joes in town, in Cruz Bay) and West Indian local places (SoJos is
outstanding). Our favorite places were Rhumb Line and La Tapas. Lime Inn
was very good. The Fish Trap was not nearly as good as advertised. 
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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