(Tavernier, FL) The five-foot-long green moray eel glides out of its coral reef cave and heads straight for the ballyhoo that Captain Spencer Slate dangles from two gloved fingers. The eel quickly …
Lady Luck To Take a Dive This Summer
by Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost Travel Journalist
The odds look good for sinking the Lady Luck as Broward County’s largest artificial reef in July. But the mock underwater gambling casino aimed at attracting both fish and scuba divers to the waters off Pompano Beach could use a few more high rollers.
The non-profit Shipwreck Park Foundation, made up of city officials and local business owners including the Isle Casino, has put up $625,000 to purchase, transport, clean and finally sink the 324-foot former sludge tanker about 1 1/2 miles southeast of the Pompano Beach Pier. The ship, originally called the Newtown Creek, was towed from its former home in New York City to a shipyard on the Miami River in late April to be stripped of equipment, cleaned of pollutants and drained of fuel and oil.
But some unexpected permits imposed by New York officials before they would release the ship increased the project cost by about $175,000. So now the Foundation is looking for some private donors to chip in and make up the difference.
“It’s going to be a great wreck,” said Captain Jeff Torode of South Florida Diving Headquarters, a Guy Harvey Outpost Outfitter. “Everybody is going to benefit. It’s a win-win.”
The Lady Luck sports multiple decks and is covered with metal piping that creates plenty of nooks and crannies for fish to hide and coral to grow. Its relief and complexity enhances the whimsical casino ambience to be created by prominent Pompano Beach artist Dennis MacDonald: mock poker tables; roulette wheels; oversized dice; and fish costumed as croupiers. Donors to the project can commission unique artwork by MacDonald to be placed throughout the ship. The interior bulkheads will feature a rotating gallery of waterproof paintings and other decorations crafted by local artists. Options for underwater selfies will be limitless.
Lady Luck is to become the centerpiece of Pompano Beach’s Shipwreck Park, which includes other popular artificial reefs such as the Captain Dan and Jay Scutti. Plans call for an underwater trail connecting them.
Resolve Marine Group, based in Fort Lauderdale, has been chosen to sink the ship– performing underwater modeling and other tests to ensure it settles right-side up on the sandy bottom. Broward County’s last artificial reef deployment– a barge holding Easter Island-like Rapa Nui statues–went wrong when it flipped upside down off Deerfield Beach last summer, crushing most of the artwork.
To learn more about how you can help with the deployment of Lady Luck, go HERE.
Sue Cocking chronicles the Guy Harvey Outpost travel and adventure experience in regular blog posts on GuyHarveyOutpostNews.com/. For 21 years, Cocking covered the full spectrum of outdoors adventure opportunities in South Florida and beyond for the Miami Herald, including fishing, diving, hunting, paddling, camping, sailing and powerboat racing. She is a certified scuba diver and holder of an IGFA women’s world fly fishing record for a 29-pound permit.