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September 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 37, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Golden Rock Dive Center, St. Eustatius

good diving, few divers

from the September, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver,

"Let me tell you why this site is called Double Wreck." Gary, our dive guide and instructor, began another of his enjoyable dive briefings. "Statia is called 'Golden Rock' because of its profits -- it was involved in arms shipments to the colonies during the Revolutionary War. Its flag changed 46 times. Two Captains had anchored their wooden merchant ships behind us and went ashore, where they drank and argued. Heading back to their ships on dinghies, they continued to yell and cuss at each other. They should've counted to 10 to calm down instead of drunkenly firing their cannons. Both ships went down."

Golden Rock Dive CenterOn the reef, I saw the anchor and cannon from the 1700s, but I also saw swarms of blue and gray chromis with a colorful ocean trigger patrolling their border. The healthy soft corals, fans, and barrel sponges hosted neighborhoods of bustling residents in myriads of colors: Rainbow runners, three-foot barracudas, Pederson cleaner shrimp, hermit crabs, and big crawling crabs. Even a turtle with a remora attached. Fields of garden eels sprouted from the sand ripples bordering the sea grass, where frog fish lurked. Big sand rays dug themselves in. Five lobsters huddled shoulder to shoulder under a ledge, with some holding and aerating their eggs . . . and then I heard a "ting ting." Gary pointed at a wall of 8-inch squid about 30 feet by 50-foot. I stopped doing the math once I counted to 63.

Traveling in early August, this was my second trip to Golden Rock Dive Center, owned by Americans Dave and Sarah Hellevang. Sarah donates a ton of time to help visiting high school divers. Dave is the Captain. The manager, Ciara, and her husband Gary, both Irish and both PADI instructors, guide most of the dives.

Before we left home, we received their questionnaire asking about dive preferences, experience, and other information. They politely insisted on full upfront payment for the morning dives, which at first aggravated me a bit, but I understand COVID recovery finances, and being a small operation, they can't afford to hold seats open for no-shows. So, I secured our spots. It's a concierge, PADI 5-Star operation specializing in friendliness, mellowness, safety, and personalized attention. For example, one of the divers at Golden Rock, an 82-year-old 1,000+ dive Dutch gentleman, had dived with the island's other shop many times, but this year they discouraged him from diving with them. Upset, he switched to Golden Rock and was pleased that he quietly received that bit of extra attention that he needed due to his age....


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