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Shallow Wrecks at Butler Bay

The Shallow Wrecks at Butler Bay consist of 3 shipwrecks, along with the Aegir underwater habitat and several Hess Oil trucks.  The shipwrecks include trawler Suffolk Maid, tug boat Northwind, and massive oil barge Virgin Islander. All of these wrecks are now encrusted with colorful coral and sponges and teeming with schools of reef fish. This is very popular dive site here on St. Croix that is best done by boat due to the distance from shore combined with the possibility of current.

Location: West End

Access:

This dive site is best accessed by boat. While the wrecks are a popular shore dive, they are a strenuous 15-20 minute surface swim and there can be a strong current.

Depth:

The deepest point of these wrecks is the Virgin Islander, which sits in a bout 80 feet of water. Suffolk Maid sits at a depth of 60 feet, and Northwind is located at an average depth of 55 feet.

Conditions:

Average visibility is about 100 feet, up to 200 feet. Fairly calm and sheltered from the northerly swells, but a slight current is to be expected.

Suffolk Maid

Suffolk Maid is a 144 foot long, steel hulled North Sea trawler. Driven into the Frederiksted Pier during a hurricane in 1984, the Suffolk Maid was eventually cleaned, gutted, and towed to Butler Bay where she was scuttled in December of 1985. The Suffolk Maid now sits upright on the ocean floor in 60-80 feet of water only a few hundred yards south of the wreck of the Rosaomaira and a hundred yards north of the Northwind wreck. Divers can still recognize the ship's name on her bow. Creole wrasses are the predominant residents, but a green moray comes to visit every now and then.
 

Virgin Islander

Virgin Islander is a 300-foot oil barge which sunk in 1991, and is the largest of the wrecks. The deepest part of the wreck lies at 70 feet, but the average depth is about 50 feet. Virgin Islander is now heavily encrusted with sponges and coral including tiny fans of pink Stylaster coral and golden cup corals. You will also find seafans, tubeworms, and schools of snapper and chub. Look for several large resident grouper, as well as stingrays hiding in the sand beneath the ship.

Northwind

Northwind is a 75 foot long, steel hulled ocean tug named after Mel Fisher's salvage boat that was used to recover the Atocha treasure. Northwind was used in the TV movie 'Dreams of Gold — The Mel Fisher Story' and washed up in Frederiksted after Tropical Storm Klaus in 1985. The vessel was then sunk by Cruzan Divers in May of 1986 as an artificial reef. Today, the vessel sits upright in 55 feet of water and is ideal for photographs since the top of the wheelhouse is only 15 feet below the surface. The shallow depth makes the Northwind an excellent wreck dive for newly certified divers and photographers alike. Divers are routinely greeted by barracuda, snapper, butterfly fish, and angelfish. The Northwind is also home to several species of wrasses, bassets, and gobies. A rather large moray Eel as well as green and hawksbill turtles are also commonly spotted in and around the wreck.

Aegir Underwater Habitat

The Aegir underwater habitat was brought from Hawaii to replace the NOAA Hydrolab in Salt River, but when they lost funding for the project it was scraped and moved to Butler Bay. NOAA's HydroLab was constructed in 1966 and was funded in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hydrolab could house up to 4 people and approximately 180 missions were conducted, including 80 missions on St. Croix, from 1977 to 1985. These scientific missions are chronicled in the 'Hydrolab Journal'. The Hydrolab habitat was decommissioned in 1985 and the Aegir underwater habitat can now be found in Butler Bay among the Shallow Wrecks.

Butler Bay is a remote area several miles north of Frederiksted, so there are no nearby amenities except Northside Valley Eco Villas and a small inn.

For the best experience possible, we recommend doing this dive by boat with a local dive shop.

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