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Lady Luck to Take A Dive
By Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost staff writer
A 324-foot ship that once carried sewage sludge for New York City is likely to become the largest artificial reef deliberately sunk in Broward County waters.
The non-profit Shipwreck Park Foundation– a group of public officials, tourism boosters and local businesses including the Isle Casino–plans to sink the Newtown Creek next spring in about 125 feet of water about a half-mile east of the Pompano Beach Fishing Pier. Pending final approval by New York City officials, the huge steel, multi-deck vessel covered with metal piping built in 1968 will be transferred to the Pompano Beach non-profit to become a haven for fish and scuba divers.
“We’re taking a ship that used to be a polluter and turning it into an artificial reef,” said Jeff Torode, operator of South Florida Diving Headquarters, a Guy Harvey Outpost outfitter. “All the piping and intricate stuff on it creates so much more habitat than a flat deck. I think it’ll be awesome.”
But the Newtown Creek won’t be deployed as is. It will be stripped of most of its equipment, cleaned of pollutants, drained of fuel and oil –then turned into a mock underwater gambling casino renamed the Lady Luck.
Prominent Pompano Beach artist Dennis MacDonald, who sculpted the Easter Island statues for the Rapa Nui artificial reef put down last summer off Deerfield Beach, is expected to create poker tables, slot machines and fish costumed like croupiers to decorate the main deck. Torode envisions underwater poker tournaments and other unique events staged aboard the Lady Luck.
The ship will join several others already deployed in the area, creating opportunities for multi-wreck drift dives, Torode said.
The Foundation paid about $100,000 for the retired ship and has raised another $525,000 to tow it from New York to a shipyard in Green Cove Springs, FL. to be prepared for sinking. The organization is trying to raise more money to ensure all costs are covered. Torode said the necessary permits have been secured from Broward County.
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.
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