New Hat (2016-2017)

Capt Wilson of Island Wilson Excursions

Capt Wilson of Island Wilson Excursions

Ahoy crew! Your captain here with an end of the season (beginning of the season) recap-what-all. This is in no particular order, so bear with me.

We are officially into the 2016-2017 season and I would love to say it started without a hitch but it ain’t so. Minor stuff and everyone left with big smiles at the end of the day. (Except for Joe who, I’m told, doesn’t smile.) Next week the Crazy Texans return, as the beginning of the season requires, and they have booked almost everyday. So it starts with a bang. (figuratively please! )

Despite starting last season 2015-2016 under a bit of a dark cloud we had an awesome season. Met some awesome people. Saw some awesome friends revisit. And had quite a few awesome experiences. Many awesome trips. So, if I had to sum up the last season in one word, it would, of course, be “super!” (insert smiley face)

One thing that the 2014-2015 crisis taught me is that we are not really prepared for emergencies and if you all hadn’t pitched in to save the bacon, things would have gone much differently. That is why 2016-2017 is seeing a price increase. Half Days are up by $40 and Full Days have increased by $70. Now, don’t get all moody on me. This is the first price increase we’ve had in 8 years and the R.O. dis is still in effect.

Scubapro Twin Jets

Scubapro Twin Jets


There was a memorial service for my Scubapro Twin-Jets. As it seems they were only built to last 16 years. These puppies were given to me by my OWSI Instructor in 2000 and have seen many places on the globe. So of course they got replaced another pair if the same. Different color.

Ok. On to more positive things. I have started what I can only refer to as “the project.” “The project” will take all season to complete and will involve everyone who takes a trip in the coming year. AND . . . it will be really cool. Everyone who has already participated in “the project” is very excited (read mildly amused) by “the project.” But the first rule of “the project” is that we don’t talk about “the project”, until you are in “the project.” And even then, only in whispers. But again, really cool stuff.

I don’t normally single out anyone (besides Margy and the Texans) because there are so many of you out there that make the year special for me (and Blue) in your own way. And If I started a list It would be long and I would probably leave someone out and I might even mist up. So I want to avoid that slippery slope. But this once . . .  ok. Shawn S. is my hero. Enough said.

Beautiful Blue.  Blue was on the hard in June this year for her yearly maintenance and bottom paint and she got a top-side make over as well. An awlgrip paint job on the aluminum and new cushions. And she looks fantastic. Some of you R.O.s who visited post June have seen the difference. We may implement a biodegradable sun screen only policy to keep her looking nice. Hmmm, I just came up with that, but I like it.

And finally, the edits are complete on this years Snorkeling Video for 2016 and we included it in this post. Hope you like it. (I mean) Like it!

And as always, Thanks to all of you for finding us, for being R.O.s  and for being part it even when you’re not here. Safe travels, everyone. Hope to see you back soon!

-Capt Wilson

St Thomas snorkeling at its best! (2016 style)

-More great [videos]
-Photos of sea turtles, common fish seen snorkeling and other reef stuff.

Sunscreen & Reefs. Who me?

Star Coral

Star Coral

The facts about sunscreens and their impact on our reefs are out there. And they are confusing. And until everyone starts agreeing and saying the same thing, it’s very easy for us to keep to our old habits. I’ve grabbed some of the more relevant tidbits that would be of interest to snorkelers and kind of compiled them. I too find this stuff confusing, frightening and simultaneously train wreck fascinating.

“Most Caribbean coral reefs may disappear in the next 20 years”- GCRMN, IUCN and UNEP

About 5000 metric tons of sunscreen wash off swimmers and into our oceans every year.

Mexico has a federal law allowing only biodegradable sunscreen use during snorkeling, scuba or any water activity inside Cozumel’s protected marine park or at the marine parks of Chankanaab, Xcaret, Xel Ha, and Garrafon.  All non-biodegradable sunscreens are prohibited.

INGREDIENTS in Sunscreens to avoid if possible:

AVOID: 4 Chemicals that are linked to reef viruses and coral bleaching: (bad)

    • Oxybenzone (benzophenone-3)
    • Butylparaben 
    • Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate)
    • 4-methylbenzylidene camphor (4MBC)

AVOID: 2 Chemicals that studies show are linked to creating hydrogen peroxide harmful to phytoplankton one of the most important food sources for ocean life. (less bad?)

    • Titanium dioxide
    • Zinc oxide

When choosing a product, Be aware of False Labeling – Reef Friendly, natural or eco-friendly labels may or may not be accurate. Read the ingredients. There are no organizations monitoring and rating reef friendly products. So be careful.

The EWG has a 2015 report and rating for all brands of sunscreen. But after finding a low rating you’ll still need to check for our unfriendly 6 chemicals. Environmental Working Group Sunscreen Help Check out your current sunscreen’s rating. (In the future choose something with a low (0 -2) EWG rating.)

Seems anything above SPF 30 is a concentrated waste of chemicals.

  • SPF 15 filters out approximately 93% of all incoming UVB rays.
  • SPF 30 filters out approximately 97% of all incoming UVB rays.
  • SPF 50 filters out approximately 98% of all incoming UVB rays.
  • SPF 100 filters out approximately 99% of all incoming UVB rays.

Bad practices – Sun screen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going into the water. It needs time to be absorbed by your skin. If you are slathering up right before you go snorkeling, you might as well just dump the sunscreen right in the water as it will just be washed off. (Remember those 5000 tons)

  • Water-resistant sunscreens lose their SPF after 40 minutes in the water.
  • Waterproof sunscreens lose their SPF after 90 minutes in the water.

I am trying. But what am I left with? No one is saying stop using sunscreen. (yet.)

  • Try to avoid the chemicals mentioned. Or pick one with as few as possible.
  • Use lotion on the beach and a long sleeved rash guard (water shirt) when snorkeling.
  • Look for Reef Safe / eco friendly but make sure it is reef safe and not labeling hype. (Ingredients!)
  • Look for Biodegradable 
  • Most importantly no matter what brand, apply 20 minutes or more before going in the water to minimize wash off. Lets get that 5000 tons down to 4000.

LIST of Potential Sun Screens  Danielle put together a list of sunscreens and their ingredients that is very helpful. 

This is not a finger pointing exercise.  More of an educational undertaking. (Except for the bit about Mexico being way more protective of their reefs then us. I can’t help but feel slightly embarrassed about that.) SO, if you find or have found one sunscreen product you like. Please share your discovery here.

-Capt Wilson

Repeat Offenders: I stumbled across this quote from the EWG which made my day:

“EWG’s Sunscreen Hall of Shame draws attention to products that promise safe sun protection and don’t deliver. This year, one brand stands out – Neutrogena.”  

Can you say Umbrella Corp.

To see photos of coral that may or may not be around in 20 years click here.

Snorkeling St Thomas, USVI (2015)

I find myself with a bit of free time on my hands. Those of you who know why, know that this is not the giddy happy free time we all wish for. It is the worried agitated free time that usually leads to nail biting. My nails, are untouched at the moment. But the month is young, my friends. The month is young.

Last year with very little free time, I constructed a snorkeling video for you. It was and is awesome! I’m sorry, but It just is. I still watch and I still say “wow.” For those of you who haven’t seen just how awesome it is,  just click here for just the youtube video OR click here for the whole post and video. So, to start a little IWE (Island Wilson Excursions) tradition, I edited the video clips from our 2014-2015 season and put together a new snorkeling video for you. It has some really nice shots in it and I am tempted to say that the whole thing is “awesome.” But You’ll have to watch for yourselves and let me know. I can tell you that I will make a sincere effort to collect much more snorkeling clips during the coming season and try to top both 2014 and 2015 with 2016’s snorkeling video next year.

Ok. enough blah-blah. Here is the Snorkeling St Thomas video for 2015. Enjoy!

-Capt Wilson

St Thomas snorkeling at its best!

-More great [videos]
-Photos of sea turtles, common fish seen snorkeling and other reef stuff.

Awesomer, yes we are.

So, I’m browsing through my latest issue of Cruise Corner. When I see this article titled: Three Great Excursions to Remember in the U.S. Virgin Islands. And OMG ! Island Wilson is one of them! (Yes, I did use OMG (again). I will not be pigeon-holed)

It was, like, totally awesome to see our name in print! And even awesomer that they were saying nice things. (Yes, awesomer is a word meaning more awesome.)

So I am going to share the article with you since not everyone’s Cruise Corner has arrived for this month and it is possible that some of you don’t subscribe. I’m not including the whole article. It drones on and on about two other excursions. Blah Blah Blah boring. So I skip straight to the meat and potatoes part for you. Here it is:

Capt Wilson  (scenic photos will resume shortly)

Cruise Corner – Island Wilson Excursions on St. Thomas
Island Wilson Excursions tailors every tour to fit what you want to do, but Capt. Wilson perfects it. The Virgin Islands have a natural beauty that stands alone, but there is a depth to them that is even more enjoyable with the right guide. Capt. Wilson is the man for that role. You can tell he really loves the Virgin Islands and wants to share with you the history of the region, the geology, the nature, the lore of the pirates from the past, and even the tales of the rich and famous who visit today.
How do you imagine your day on the water? Swimming with sea turtles in a Caribbean-blue bay? Stretched out and sunning on a sandy deserted island? Snorkeling colorful reefs surrounded by tropical fish? Exploring pirate caves that once held a king’s ransom in treasure, and possibly still do? Bird watching? Boating around the beauty of islands created by volcanoes and techtonic plate shifts and seeing magnificant rock formations?
Or, maybe simply relaxing on a postcard-perfect beach, feet in the surf, and the next round of drinks just a few steps away?
Whatever your idea of a perfect day is, Wilson will make it happen. He takes the time to find out exactly what you want to do with your time on his beautiful boat Deja Blue. He then maps out a day that pairs those desires with the conditions of weather and currents to create the perfect itinerary. He even matches your knowledge and skills for snorkeling to ensure an optimal experience. The Deja Blue is a double-hulled powerboat that is ideal for making the cruise smooth and fun.
You want to be sure to book this excursion before scheduling your plane tickets. It’s that special. Learn more about fees and inclusions by visiting

Deja Blue - Ready to Snorkel

Deja Blue – Ready to Snorkel

Island Wilson knew exactly where the best snorkeling would be for the conditions that day and set us up with ideal gear.