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Dive Review of Chris Sawyer in
Virgin Islands

Chris Sawyer, May, 2004,

by Dee Mickey, AL, USA . Report 1129.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Thailand, Puerto Rico
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 80 to 83 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

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

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

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments [None]This was our third bareboat charter in the Virgin Islands. While we rented tanks, pelicans and weights from Chris Sawyer, we were on our own for all but a couple dives. This is the trip where you are captain, dive master, crew and diver. Its complete freedom and total responsibility. (There are options: One can charter with a captain and crew. Dive operations will meet your bareboat and take you to diving.)

Power and sailing yachts are available from several marinas on St. Thomas and Tortola. The Sir Francis Drake Channel is about 35 miles long, mostly protected from open seas, and one is always within sight of land. We spend most of our time in the BVIs and there are several dive shops for air fills. We rent 2 tanks each, and plan the itinerary around air fill locations, dive sites and water fill stations for the boat, and of course the winds. This in not cushy divingnot only do you lug tanks, but you wrangle all your gear on board as well. For refills, that means either docking & hauling tanks or putting all the tanks in the dinghy to take them ashore.

You pick the dive sites, you navigate, you assist the other divers, and you truly perfect your skills. There are a few dive books that give you site maps. The dive shops are also great about sharing site info. In the BVIs there is a great dive site mooring system. In the USVI, its not as reliable. Almost all dive sites are 40 to 60 feet deep, with little current. The wind and seas determine the calmer sites. If you want to dive in 5 foot seas, you have the opportunity. If you want calm water, just go to the lee. Visibility is a minimum 40 to 60 feet. This spring was record rainfall and a record low temp of 70 degrees in St. Thomas; the viz was lower due to runoff.

The reefs are healthy, there are lots of fish in most places, and there are few divers. We leave our mooring at 7 a.m. and head to a dive site. That puts us there ahead of the commercial boats. Were leaving the dive site when they arrive & were on the next site about 11. When we finish there, we head to the overnight mooring and dive shop for refills. There are lots of great snorkel sites, too. If everyone in our group wants to dive a site, we go in 2 shifts so someone is on the boat at all times. Topside crew is on bubble watch and ready with the dinghy for the navigationally challenged or anyone who needs help. Other than the Baths, the Rhone and the Caves, a site is crowded if there are two other boats. Many sites have only one mooring, so unless someone anchors, which we strongly discourage for the sake of the reef, its all yours.

This year we saw squid almost everywhere. Rays were abundant, including what must have been a 10 foot ray sleeping in the sand under our boat at The Baths. We had a rare opportunity to dive Eagle Shoal, an open water site that is often too rough. The schools of fish were incredible, the topography of the site truly awesome. Another favorite is Alice in Wonderland, also open to the southern sea and often rough. All the sites at the Dogs are great; we saw a slipper lobster there this year. We often find snorkel sites are like nurseries with baby fish of many species. However, on one snorkel we found ourselves with 3 barracuda and 11 tarpon, all in the 4 to 6 foot size.

We provision ourselves, and plan all meals aboard except about half the dinners and a couple lunches. We moor a couple of days at the Bitter End to allow crew a shore day, everyone on their own. We often dive with Kilbrides to explore new sites. Ten days on a boat can test relationships, so pick your group carefully. Everyone is assigned a job and cooking tasks are shared.

In May the area is not crowded. There are small grocery stores throughout the islands, and a little shopping. Its a low-key vacation, reasonably priced, and an easy plane ride from the east side of the US. We prefer to leave St. Thomas, the cruise ships and shoppers behind and head to the small islands.
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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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