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

6-Paq/Plumeria villa, Catered-To-Vacation, Jan, 2011,

by Deborah Swackhamer, MN, US (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 5901.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 2 stars
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 1 stars
Beginners 1 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments 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 one’s 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.

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

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 79-79°F / 26-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 50-65 Ft/ 15-20 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions all dives were led
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 1 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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