18 22 449N 64 31 916W Salt Island

Wed 16 Apr 2014 17:27

The boys wanted to dive the famous wreckage of The Rhone, a Royal Mail Steamer which sank off Salt Island in 1867 during an October Hurricane.  She was at anchor off Peter Island when the storm hit, as they tried to lift their 3,000 pound anchor a shackle broke and the cable parted, dropping the anchor and some 300 feet of chain to the sea bed. They then tried with engines at full speed to gain sea room and had almost negotiated the rocky channel when a second onslaught hit and  they were driven on to the rocks off Salt Island where she heeled over, broke in two and sank taking most of her company with her.

We had an early start from Norman Island, sailing around the south coast of Peter Island and up to Salt Island where we anchored off a beautiful beach at Salt Island Bay, then took the dinghy around to the wreck.  The wreck is part of the National Heritage Park and they provide buoys for the dive boats and dinghies to tie up to where the wreck starts. The boys dived and us girls snorkelled over the wreck, the shallowest part is only a few meters from the surface so we had a great view, and you get an idea of the vastness of the steamer when you see the size of the propeller laying on the sea bed.  The wreck continues into deeper water, some 70 feet below the surface and Jez and Steve had an amazing dive entering enclosed parts of the wreck where only huge angel fish now occupy.  The site was very busy with divers and it was fun to watch them from the surface exploring the wreck.

Salt Island used to be an important source of salt for the ships of the navy.  There was a small settlement ashore behind the beach and three evaporation lakes.  Today it is uninhabited, the remains of buildings still stand and there are the usual chickens and goats roaming around.  In the afternoon we went ashore and walked around the huge salt lakes and climbed up the hill to get some views back across the bay and distant islands.  The place is very unusual and stunningly beautiful and we weren’t sure if salt is still harvested here as there are still vague signs of activity. 



















That’s Joy on the left!



The sandy beach is covered with the tracks of hermit crabs. 



Humming birds sighted too!



Dead coral lies amongst the rocks and boulders on the fringes of the lakes.





These are my favourites, alive under water they look like brains!