Introducing Your Future Friends

HI!  Welcome to St. Croix and Sweet Bottom Dive Center.  We are glad to have you and are looking forward to diving with you soon.

 

Our staff of professional scuba instructors are experts in every type of diving imaginable here on St. Croix.  We could even teach you some ice diving...if we had ice.  As certified PADI Instructors we can conduct almost every certification available from our beach front dive center.  If you're making the run to warmer waters to finish your Open Water certification, want to learn how to take beautiful underwater photographs, or even become a professional dive master we can do it all for you.

 

Here at Sweet Bottom we focus on the fun and relaxing parts of the diving.  Whether you're on a full blown 5 dives a day adventure or just feel the urge to catch a quick dive, we'll help to make every moment count.  Don't you worry about a thing either because we are more than happy to put together, carry, break down, clean, and dry your gear after each and every dive!  Just relax and enjoy the underwater view off the closest dive site to "The Wall."

 

So let's meet your future friends...

 

Greg preparing to go DIVE!

Greg Gapen

General Manager

IDC Staff Instructor

    

Greg was born and raised in the cornfields of Illinois then moved to the scorching heat of Phoenix in the 70’s.  In 2005, he met Mel and swept her off her feet as she pulled him underwater.  He had to get certified before she made him her forever dive buddy.

Greg has dove chilly California waters, Mexico, Florida Keys and across the Eastern Caribbean.  He is a 6-pack boat captain as well as a PADI and SDI IDC Staff Instructor, working on his Master Instructor.  In 2009, Mel and Greg left the dry heat of Phoenix and headed to Utila for their IDC and then on to St. Kitts and eventually ended up in St. Croix in 2010.  And here is where they hope to stay!  

Favorite Dive Site: Davis Bay West

Favorite Restaurant: Hanging out at Brew Pub

Favorite View: Pt. Udall at Sunrise

Favorite Drink: Cruzan Dark Rum on the rocks  

Mel at fabulous Carambola Beach!

Mel Gapen

Retail Manager

IDC Staff Instructor

   

Mel grew up in one of the hottest places on earth, El Centro, CA!  In 1989 while in college she learned to dive in San Diego in the winter, brrr.  After college, life got in the way and she did not hardly dive for 15 years until she met Greg in Phoenix, AZ. She dreamed for 20 years of being a dive instructor and living in the Caribbean! She told him she would not marry him until he got certified (they got married 2 months after he got his C- card). And the rest is history.  

Mel has done a lot of diving throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and California.  In 2009, Mel and Greg made the dream come true and became PADI Staff Instructors, and there is no looking back.  St. Croix has become home and she cannot imagine ever joining the rat race again! 

Mel loves teaching people scuba diving and showing them the underwater world: “It truly is an amazing world down below that everyone should see!”

When she is not diving is is busy working on her and Greg's sailboat, Mermaid Tales.

Favorite Dive Site: Frederiksted Pier at night

Favorite Restaurant: Bombay Club

Favorite View: From a sailboat at Buck Island

Favorite Drink: Cruzan Banana Rum on the rocks 

Hatch the Sweet Bottom mascot!

Hatch Gapen

Dive Shop Mascot

   

Hatch was born on St. Croix and arrived at Sweet Bottom in May 2014 as a tiny puppy. He is still growing into a famous #divedog and greets all of the shop's customers with a friendly wag of the tail. His favorite activities include riding on the golf cart to help the staff unload tanks, playing in the rinse buckets and digging in the sand.

Favorite Dive Site: Davis Bay

Favorite Restaurant: Pirates Tavern

Favorite View: Watching the sunset from his boat Mermaid Tales

Favorite Drink: Single barrel Cruzan Rum on the rocks

Bill Colderbank

Master Scuba Diver Trainer

 

In 1964 Bill's father met an ex-navy diver that was teaching SCUBA at the local YMCA. Dad signed Bill up for the class and he's been diving ever since. Bill received his Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) certification in 2004. When he's not teaching scuba diving, Bill manages the logistics for an international marketing company.

 

Bill has had the opportunity to dive in exotic locations for over 40 years. He experienced a perfect "Kodak" moment on New Years Eve 2001 while he was on the surface waters off the coast of Bonaire with his dive group. There was a full moon overhead, and as he was waiting to descend he and his dive group watched the sky light up with the island's beautiful fireworks display.

 

Other than Bonaire, Bill's favorite dive locations are the Galapagos Islands to see a display of large sea life and St. Croix, USVI to observe smaller marine life and healthy reefs.

Bob Jensen

Master Scuba Diver Trainer


We think he started diving with Jacques Cousteau! But he will tell us all about it soon in his bio!

Matt says hello to some Caribbean Black Tip Reef Sharks!

Matt Gale

Open Water Scuba Instructor, Specialty Instructor

 

Originally from Houston, TX, Matt was certified at 14 after his dad took him to a SeaSpace conference. Later on, after attending Texas Christian University he thought it would be fun to be an instructor and a great way to see the world. Matt became an instructor in 1999 and moved to Grand Cayman where he taught diving for a year. He then moved back to Houston and became a loan officer. 

 

In 2010, Matt wanted to move back to an island that was on U.S. soil and St. Croix offered all that he was looking for: remote, laidback, and plenty of diving!

 

Other places he's dived include Roatan, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Barbados, and one of his most memorable dives was a shark dive in the Bahamas.

 

Matt still works as a Loan officer when he's not in the water and likes to spend time on his sailboat, a Beneteau 343 called "Infinite Possibility" and with his furry children Daisy and Cetecea.

 

Favorite Dive Site: Northstar

Favorite Restaurant: Rowdy Joe's

Favorite View: Kick out from Davis Beach looking towards Hamm's Bluff

Favorite Drink: Dark & 7

Katie sailing on Cheeky Monkey!

Katie Payne

Open Water Scuba Instructor


Katie is from the town of Loomis, CA, located in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California. Her love for diving began in 2009, during her Peace Corps service in Nicaragua as a Small Business Advisor and Educator. She journeyed for 2 days by bus and ferry to Utila, Honduras where she completed her PADI Open Water certification with Utila Dive Center. 

 

After Peace Corps, Katie spent 3 years in Washington, DC working at a think tank until her roommate said she was moving to St. Croix. Katie thought it sounded like a great idea to trade in the nation's capital for the nation's Caribbean, so she told her roommate "I'm coming with you!"

 

She completed her Divemaster/Assistant Instructor with Sweet Bottom and really enjoys welcoming customers to the shop, teaching kids about aquatic life and taking divers on shore tours of the wall. You might hear her laugh before you actually see her.

 

Katie also works as a first mate for Bilinda Charters, as an operations specialist for a renewable energy company, and is a grant writer for local non-proftis. Her other hobbies include sailing, golfing, hosting parties, singing musicals off key, and lionfish hunting. She is an enthusiastic lionfish hunter and a member of Caribbean Lionfish Safaris and CORE, St. Croix Chapter.

 

Favorite Dive Site: Jungle (Pride Rock)

Favorite Restaurant: Blue Water Terrace

Favorite View: View of Christiansted from the porch in her hammock chair

Favorite Drink: Cruzan Black Cherry Rum & Club Soda

Bailey hanging out at the tidepools by Carambola!

Bailey Rowland

Open Water Scuba Instructor, Specialty Instructor

 

Bailey is from the close-knit beach town of Atlantic Beach, FL. Thanks to her dive-crazed parents, she was certified at the ripe age of 11 years old. Since then she has been diving in Jacksonville, Little Cayman, Grand Cayman, Belize, Curacao, and of course St. Croix! It has been a dream of hers to be a dive professional since the first time she took a breath underwater.

 

After graduating from Florida State University in 2011, she decided she wanted to take the road less traveled. On a family dive trip to St. Croix in 2012 she instantly fell in love with the island, Sweet Bottom Dive Center and its managers Mel and Greg. On that same trip, Bailey's mom mentioned that if she was young again she would move to St. Croix to become a dive instructor. A light bulb went off and a year later Bailey made the move to the island!

 

Favorite Dive Site: Shallow Wrecks out West

Favorite Restaurant: No Bones Cafe

Favorite View: Jack and Issacs Bay

Favorite Drink: Cruzan Mango Rum and Club Soda

Warren Evans

Divemaster and Lionfish Hunter Extraordinaire

 

Warren is from Washington state and moved to St. Croix to attend the University of the Virgin Islands to study criminal justice. One of the first activities he did after landing on the island was take a Discover Scuba Diving class. He took his first breath underwater and the rest is history! In a very short time Warren went from an Open Water Diver to a Divemaster!

 

He is also a Staff Sergeant for the US National Guard based in the USVI, and did two combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 82nd Airborne Division. Warren is considered by his friends to be the ultimate dancing machine and master lionfish hunter.

 

Warren lives with his wife Ariel, who studies at Barry University on St. Croix, and his two furry children: Chito and Baybell.

 

Favorite Dive Site: Swirling Reef of Death

Favorite Restaurant: Castaways

Favorite View: The view of Buck Island from his porch

Favorite Drink: Yeagar's Bloody Mary

Daron Marsh

Divemaster