Ship, tugboat to be sunk as part of artificial reef

Two vessels will soon become the newest features in Volusia County’s artificial reef system.  Before they become a playground for fishermen and SCUBA divers, the will be open for the public to explore.  

Lady Philomena, a 150-foot cargo ship, and Everglades, a 90-foot tug boat were donated to the county.

The ships have been hollowed out and scoured clean.  Weather permitting, the plan is to sink them at one of the county’s 15 artificial reef sites next week.  

“[The wreckage] becomes kind of an oasis, if you will, in an area where there are very few natural reefs on the continental shelf in northeast Florida,” said the Volusia County coastal division’s Joe Nolin.  

The nooks and crannies of the ship become coated with marine life forming a reef that attracts game fish.  

“These vessels make tremendous scuba diving locations as well as charter fishing and locations for trolling for large species like King Mackerel.  They even attract manna rays and sea turtles,” Nolin said.  

Nick Czrok has been captaining fishing charters to the artificial reefs for eight years.  

“We caught a 67-pound wahoo 9 miles off shore which is unheard of,” he said. 

Czrok says his yearly bookings for Searok sport Fishing Charters have almost double as word of the growing reef system spreads.  

“I am busier and busier every single year.  I have more bookings phone calls people often ask me to take them diving,” he said.

The ships are docked at Down the Hatch in Ponce Inlet.  They will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.