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Promenade Sail & SCUBA Charters
Some people call this the second best dive in the BVI after the HMS Rhone. I suppose in the wider picture, it is the second best dive. Although in my books, for fish life, nothing outranks it around here. You will see fish and quantities of fish that you will not see elsewhere. The Chikuzen is in 75-80 feet of water in the middle of nowhere but sand flats. As soon as she sank back in 1981 it was attracting schools of fish
history of the chikuzen
The boat is 246 feet long and was originally built in Shimizu Japan, and operated as a long liner in the korean fishing fleet. She spent the last couple years of her life tied up to a dock in St Maarten being used as a cold storage facility, without working engines and a damaged prop. Story has it that in September of 1981, a storm was threatening St Maarten and the harbor master ordered it moved, as they were concerned that it would damage the docks more than what it already had been doing. The owner took it out to sea, opened all the seacocks and tried to sink it. It did not sink. It was then set on fire to sink it. Still, no sinking. The Chikuzen was then abandoned to drift out to sea. She drifted the 70 miles to the BVI trailing plumes of smoke behind it, and threatened to put up on Marina Cay to quite a bit of local concern. A St Croix ocean tug eventually took it under tow until the tow rope snapped and shattered a crewmembers legs. It was then abandoned again, where that night, it sank where it lays now. It lies on her port side. The starboard rail comes up to about 45 feet from the surface.
It is a majestic sight with its railings, winches and two massive masts that are sticking out almost parallel to the seafloor. There are a couple large refrigerated holds that are quite open, but can be dangerous with a lot of refrigeration coiling which is breaking down. If you look carefully there are a couple plaques on various pieces of equipment in japanese or korean. I don't know the difference!
Large schools of fish sit everywhere in and on the Chikuzen. The first thing you notice as you are going down to the wreck are the literally, hundreds, if not thousands of barracuda that are hanging in mid air. You need to dive this wreck several times, as you are so busy looking at the fish, you can forget to see the wreck. There is a large grouper, I am talking hundreds of pounds that lives on the wreck. Usually only the first person gets a glimpse of him and he is gone. A couple cobia hang out by the stern. LARGE southern stingrays are in the sand. You can go right up to these beautiful rays by making sure they see you, and moving up closely on their side. Patience is rewarded for some, when they allow you to pet underneath their wing. The wreck is also on the path of the migratory whales, and last year, we were escorted around the wreck by about a dozen dolphins for the entire dive. It does not get much better than that! Yesterday while diving it, we were all impressed with the silvery fish, schools of them that you rarely see. Some of the fish we saw yesterday are horse eyed jack, almaco jack, lookdowns, pompano, a king mackerel, saucereye porgy, chub (all huddled underneath the bow of the boat) and Atlantic Spadefish. This is the only time I have seen some of these with 9 years of diving in the BVI!!! This site can ONLY be dived when the seas are completely calm. There is a National Parks mooring ball on the site, usually with its tag line in horrible shape.