Overview of Butler Bay

Butler Bay

Butler Bay
USVI, St. Croix


Site Review by
 Steve Cunningham
Date: 08/29/2003


Site Condition
(1=worst, 5=best)

Name:  Steve Cunningham Entry:    3.00
Email:   Click Here Bottom:    3.00
City:   Christiansted Reef:    3.00
State:   VI Animal:    3.00
Country:   Usvi Plant:    3.00
Diving:   6 years Facilities:    3.00
 Dives:   700 Solitude   3.00
    Roads:    3.00


*Average:    3.00
Living the Caribbean allows Deanna and I dive four or five days a week but sometimes it becomes a little mundane to dive the same location day after day. The dive boats limited us to their time schedules, dive locations, length of dive time and crowds. Enjoying the road less traveled and wanting to be more independent we planed several beach dives to some rather spectacular dive sites. Butler Bay on the West end of St. Croix is an area where five ships, part of a scientific habitat and several old trucks were recently sunk to provide an artificial reef. Our new adventure was to begin on the beach at Butler Bay. Although we have both dived these wrecks before it was off a boat, never as a shore dive. We were unable to find any maps of the area so we decided to test our navigation skills to determine where we were and where we were going. We could see an orange buoy bobbing in 3-foot seas out about 400 yards. Not sure which wreck it was tied to, if any, we decided this would be our destination. We began our swim, kicking out on our backs, at a heading of 310. The sand bottom gradually drops off to a depth of 70 feet. We reached the orange buoy after 20 Minutes. The water clarity was fair, 60 ft, so we could see that we were over a wreck, YEA! But which one we didn't know. Following the buoy line down we found the bow of the Sulfoulk-Maid, the name we were told later. Neither of us had dived this ship before but found it to be the prettiest of all the wrecks. She has good coral and sponge growth. There is plenty of penetration points but no real wheelhouse so we were not sure what type of vessel we were looking at. There was a huge prop so it could not have been a barge. Since we had not seen this ship before we did not know the relative location of the other 4 ships. Being sure that the barge and the North Wind, a tug, were close our next challenge would be to find them. We swam to the bow and I swam north a hundred yards while Deanna swam east a hundred yards then back to the bow. We were just out of visual contact for a couple of minutes so we decided that separation was a bad idea. We tracked a heading of 270 off the stern together; and with-in 60 yd we could see the shadow of the barge. Having our bearings we now knew that the habitat, and junk trucks were 200 off the port stern. The North Wind was 170 or so off the habitat. We found them all and returned to our entry point swimming underwater on our reciprocal heading ending our dive after 53 min. The gradually sloping sand bottom gave us plenty of time for a safety stop on our swim in. We learned much on this dive: 1st stay with your buddy: 2nd trust your compass: 3rd watch your computer. The next day Deanna wanted to dive at North Star, a 3000-foot deep wall dive site on the north shore and a mile west of Cane Bay. The entry is surgey and rocky which lends itself to only experienced divers with good buoyancy control. Therefore the reef is in great shape with little fin damage. The wall is only a 100-yard swim due north. There is a boat buoy 340 but you miss half the dive using it as a marker. We dropped down the wall a hundred feet and swam west for 25 min, actually to 1200 lb. We naturally came up to 70 feet along the way using our computers as nitrogen fill guides. We watched a 2 foot diameter hawks bill turtle taking a nap and saw couple of a lobster fighting over something. On top of the wall in 25 ft of water we encountered a 7 or 8 foot nurse shark free swimming with two remora attached. He was looking for lunch and hung around for a couple of minutes. We gassed off with our return swim to the car; another successful 48 min dive. On day three- I wanted to find and map the other two wrecks in Butler Bay. We stopped on the road overlooking the bay and saw a small white buoy a little further out and to the north of the orange buoy. We marked it at 330 from our entry point and started our swim. The seas were much calmer than our previous visit so it was an easy 20-minute swim. Arriving at the buoy we could see that it was attached to a cement slab and nothing more. Disappointed we decided to surface swim west to the orange marker. Eureka! After only 25 feet or so swim we crossed the bow of the Coakley Bay, a tug, whose bow points toward the Rosa Maria, a ferry sitting in 80 to 90 feet of water. DIVE! DIVE! DIVE! We spent most of this dive mapping the two wrecks. We had a close encounter with a free-swimming 5-foot green moray eel; I assured him that I was not lunch. A small southern ray seemed to be having a disagreement with a couple of bar jacks. The largest gray angle I believe I have ever seen was monitoring a 15-member school of angles on the poop deck; French, grays, queens and rock beauties. One queen seems to enjoy swimming upside down, and none of them were interested in or shy of us. We swam back to the car on a reciprocal under water heading. We surfaced after 46 minutes, 250lbs.of air. Even so we were able to maintain a 5 min 15 foot safety stop on the swim in and had less than 100 yards of a surface swim. Next visit we are going to take our lights, gloves and dive reel to penetrate these wrecks With maps, charts and navigation skills divers can discover the joy and adventure available on St. Croix's great beach dives. My wife and I are owners of Bubble makers, Inc in St. Croix if you are interested you can visit us at Bubblesvi.com Thank you.    

Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:    3.00
Beginner:    3.00
Intermediate:    3.00
Advanced:    3.00
Night diving:    3.00

Seasonal Information

Season:    Spring
Year:    2003
Visibility:    3.00
Current:    3.00
Surf:    3.00

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