Wreck Diving Palm Beach County
The large number of wrecks off the Coast of Palm Beach County attracts divers from all over the world every year. We use the word wreck loosely because the majority of them have not been in marine accidents, but have been intentionally sunk at various depths in the Atlantic Ocean.
These sunken vessels over time create what is called an artificial reef. Given an adequate amount of time, nature takes over with coral and algae attaching and growing on the wreck. Fish enjoy the vegetation that grows on and around these artificial reefs so they make for favorable dive spots.
What is an Artificial Reef?
An artificial reef is similar to a natural reef except it is human-made to promote marine life, block ship passage or control erosion. The most common type of artificial reef is typically shipwrecks. But other potential wreck sites can include airplanes, bridges, and lighthouses just to name a few.
There are companies who specialize in the construction and placement of artificial reefs usually made from steel, concrete and limestone. These man-made reefs provide economic benefits because they attract sea life becoming popular destinations for fisherman, snorkelers and of course, divers.
The earliest recorded construction of an artificial reef in the U.S. is from the 1830’s when logs from huts were used off the coast of South Carolina to improve the fishing in the area.
Ana Cecilia Wreck
The most recent ship to be sunk off the coast of Palm Beach is the Ana Cecilia. This 629 ton, 170 foot freighter was sunk to a depth of 85 feet on July 13th, 2016.
Although this vessel was a gift from U.S. Customs, this 44 year old ship cost Palm Beach County $103,760 to tow and sink the ship.
During the summer of 2012, the Ana Cecilia became the first ship to transport humanitarian goods, such as medicine, food, toiletries, clothes and furniture between Havana and Miami at a significantly lower cost than transporting goods by plane.
This transporting went on for almost a year and ended in April 2013 due to mechanical problems. Once that happened, U.S. Customs seized the vessel. This ship is now one of the most popular wrecks in Palm Beach County.
TheDanny McCauley Memorial Wreck
Formerly called the Pocahontas, this 110-foot World War II classic tugboat was intentionally sunk on the morning of February 22, 2013 to a depth 75 feet.
The creation of this memorial artificial reef just north of the Lake Worth inlet has proven to be an outstanding destination for advanced open water divers and fishermen. Before this vessel was sunk, there were large holes cut in the cabin, deck and engines to make it safer for divers to go in and out of the structure.
Divers have reported that there are strong currents in this area but if you stay close to the wreck you will be less affected by the water flow and are able to move about rather easily.
There are multiple photo and video opportunities due to the large number of sea life such as, barracuda, Goliath Grouper, sharks, and tropical fish. If you are an advanced open water diver, you won’t want to miss this diving opportunity.
This Wreck has had so much varied history that the best way to describe it would be to list the history in chronological order:
- 1926- Partially Built by the Newport News Ship Company for the US Navy and named “The Savaona.” The 185 foot ship was not completed because of an strange law at the time to limit the number of Navys in the world.
- Palm Beach resident, Mrs. Cadwalder purchases the vessel for $526,000 who then completes the build into a steel-hull luxury yacht. The yacht is renamed “Sequoia.”
- The Sequoia is sold to James Elverson and he renames it, “Allegro.”
- 1929- Allegro was sold for $375,000 to the founder of Zenith Corporation, Commander McDonald who renames it “Mizpah.”
- 1929, Allegro was again sold for $375,000, this time to Eugene Kinney’s uncle, Commander McDonald, the founder of Zenith Corporation. Commander McDonald added at that time, state-of-the-art equipment crating one of the best floating radio labs in the world.
- 1929-1942-The McDonald family uses the boat as a home in Florida and on the Great Lakes.
- WW II – the ship was donated back to the Navy and served s a patrol craft throughout the war, becoming an anti-submarine ship escort. At the end of WW II, the ship’s Commander McDonald $175,000 and ownership of the Mizpah because of their patronage in the war.
- 1945-1946 – the Mizpah was sold for $17,500 to the H.O. Merren Shipping Company of Honduras.
- 1960-1965 – the ship is driven into a reef because of a storm and towed to a local shipyard.
- Eugene Kenney, nephew of now the late Commander McDonald, purchases the ship.
- 1968 – April, the Mizpah reaches it’s final resting point 100 feet from the surface in the Lake Worth inlet.
It is interesting that the last person to own the Mizpah was the nephew of the man who used it as a yacht for his family for so many years and who set up the boat with enough radio equipment to make it attractive to the Navy for use in WW II.
Originally the Mizpah was supposed to land at a depth of 200 feet but the Gulf Stream pulled the ship into half that depth. Even though much of the structure has eroded away, the remaining wreck is covered with coral and algae and attracts Goliath Grouper and a number of other fish and underwater foliage making it a great spot to dive.