Triple your pleasure

Three islands, 10 dives in five days. Toss in tours of each
island, socializing and, don't forget, washing out dive gear
and greasing the underwater camera o-rings or risk losing
$1,000s in gear, and it sounds like a gantlet. But it wasn't
the case at the U.S. Virgin Islands because the group of
journalism pros melded well, and the organizers helped to
keep us apace – even arranging for a low-flying seaplane
to carry us from St. Croix to St. Thomas so we could
meet our schedule without compromising our nitrogen
load from doing lots of good diving. What made it so good
was the diversity of sea life. Greeting us on most dives
were Flamingo Tongue nudibranches and other colorful
little critters. And although we were so dog tired from the
schedule that intimacy seemed impossible, we got to
watch everything from seahorses  to arrow crabs to
conch doing the horizontal dance. While they were acting
naturally, so were we divers. So much life to explore on
St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John and so little time
underwater. The town pier at St. Croix had a herd of
seahorses, batfish and octopi that prowled at night beneath
dayglow sponges. Wrecks were lush with life. The
WIT
Shoal
off St. Thomas was totally covered in sponges. As
Landing Ship Tank 467 it served admirably in World War
II before it was bought by the West Indies Trading Co.,
renamed and converted into a cargo hauler. The
Shoal
found its final resting place when Tropical Storm Klaus
sent it to the bottom on Nov. 6, 1984. The
Cartanser-
Senor
was saved as a dive site by popular demand by local
divers, who mounted a "Save The Cartanser" campaign in
the late 1970s to keep the Army Corps of Engineers from
dynamiting it as a navigation hazard. Now it serves as a
"bed and breakfast" for sea turtles and stingrays off St.
Thomas. Its steel nooks provide protection for a night's
sleep, and there no doubt are some unwary snacks of  
snappers and baitfish for breakfast. Life is good. Even
little wrecks are fun. Just hang onto the skiff's wheel and
fly through the current. And maybe take notes underwater
about the experience, as
Scuba Diving scribe Gil Griffin
did throughout the trip. There was so much to see that
one traveler, Jason Swenson, packed a scooter to cover
more turf. Fine for flying, but the beauty is in the details.
Slowing down. Watching the denizens dance on the reef.
That simple samba in surge that feeds so much life on this
planet is as obvious as wave action in these islands.
Considering how it pulses making life, it's hard to call
them virgin islands. Lots of basic pleasures happening
here, right down to the simple job of knocking back an icy
brew in a hot climate, as locals enjoy, can and all. Besides
the fun of being here, it is easy for U.S. residents to go
there. It's a U.S. territory, so a driver's license works. So
also do U.S. dollars. 60-cycle / 110 is the currency for
your electrical appliances, same as in the U.S. and Canada,
so battery chargers and computers work just fine.
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Bob Sterner
photos © 2008
A friendly welcome!
Reefs
Gil Griffin's Boat Ride
Jason Scoots
Flamingo Tongue
WIT Shoal
Reporter Gil Griffin
Conch get it on
Cartanser-Senor Turtle
Stingray St. Thomas
Brew -
brew-ha
Brew-ha-ha-ha
St. Thomas Touchdown