South Florida Divers, Inc. 

"The Wrecks We Dive"
By Jeff Guzowski

The Adolphus Busch Wreck
The Ancient Mariner
The Captain Dan
The Guy Harvey
The Jim Atria
The Noula Express
The Robert Edmister
The Rodeo 25
The USS Spiegel Grove
The Tenneco Oil Rig
The Thunderbolt

Recient Wreck Sinkings

The Vandenberg 
The Miss Lourdies

     These are some of the series of wrecks that your club has sunk.  A lot of members donít know that the club was involved in the purchasing at auction, cleaning and preparation of 13 of our artificial reefs.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE ARTIFICIAL REEF INFORMATION.

The Adolphus Busch Wreck

     The Ocean Alley, renamed the Adolphus Busch, was purchased from Port Au Prince, Haiti, by Looe Key Artificial Reef Associates and Adolphus Busch, the grandson of the founder of the Anheuser-Busch empire. Busch, who is an avid diver and fisherman, gave $200,000 towards the purchasing and sinking of the ship.  Four years ago, he found that the choice dive spots in the lower Keys were getting too crowded, and thatís why he got involved with the Looe Key Artificial Reef Association program with a long term plan to help preserve the marine habitat. 

     The 210-foot freighter, originally the Ocean Alley, was sunk on December 5, 1998.  The ship sits upright in 108 feet of water off Looe Key.  The mast is the highest point at 50 feet with the main deck at 80 feet.  A 350 pound goliath grouper (jewfish) usually can be found near the cargo holds.  Visibility usually is good, so bring your cameras. 

     The Adolphus Busch will be the first dive on the annual August Keys weekend in Looe Key.

~ August, 2001 
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The Ancient Mariner

     The Ancient Mariner was a 1933 ex-Coast Guard ship named the Nemesis, which was 165 feet long and had a narrow 25-foot beam.  The Nemesis originally was built as a prohibition runner during the non-alcoholic days in the 1930ís and was launched in July 1934, but since prohibition ended in 1934, the Nemesis never got a chance to chase any rum runners.  Since then, the Nemesis went through many owners through the years. 

     In 1979, she was remodeled to look like a three-deck African Steamer and was renamed Livingstonís Landing, Fort Lauderdaleís first floating restaurant.  She closed in 1981 and was sold and renamed the Ancient Mariner where she was renovated, then proceeded to sink at the dock in the New River.  She was re-floated and reopened and did quite well until a restaurant employee gave 100+ dinner patrons a bad case of hepatitis in 1986.  The Ancient Mariner changed names four more times, but could not overcome all the bad publicity, and never found a new owner to buy her. 

     Thatís when the South Florida Divers (your club) and the Create-A-Reef Foundation bought the Ancient Mariner for $6,000 and donated it to Broward County to be sunk as part of their Artificial Reef Program.  In June 1991, the now Ancient Mariner was sunk off Deerfield Beach in 71 feet of water, landing upright on a sandy bottom.  The pilothouse lies at 40 feet, which is its highest point. 

~ July, 2002

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Donna Harland and Steve d'Oliveira 
order food from 
Debby Bradford Auchter
on the deck of the 
world's first
underwater restaurant.
Click on the photo to see just
what the heck this is all about!

~ Nemesis photo courtesy
~ Underwater Restaurant photo by Jackie Bell 

The Captain Dan

     In March of 1937, the Hollyhock, a U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender, was built in Michigan.  The Hollyhockís first assignment was maintaining buoys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  In 1959, she was moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she was used as an ice breaker in Lake Michigan.

     In 1962 she was stationed in Miami, Florida, where she was still used as a buoy tender, but obviously not as an ice breaker! She was also used in the Bahamas for refueling seaplanes for the U.S. Air Force.

     In 1982, the Hollyhock was decommissioned by the Coast Guard and was later purchased by a missionary and renamed the Good News Missionship, where she went from port to port spreading the Gospel.  She became stranded in the Miami River due to mechanical problems, and with the help of the Boating Improvement Program Fund and the Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo, she was purchased to become an artificial reef.

     In February of 1990, the ship was renamed in memory of Captain Dan Garnsey, a well-known Pompano Beach drift fishing boat owner.

     The ship is 175 feet long and lies upright in a depth of 100 feet, 65 feet to the deck, off of Pompano Beach, a few hundred feet east of the third reef with plenty of marine life.  Since the ship has a large interior, you can penetrate the wreck in many locations.  This is one of the few shipwrecks that the interior was left intact.

~ November, 2001
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 ~ Photos courtesy Steve Somerville

The Guy Harvey

     The Guy Harvey is one of Broward Countyís newest artificial reefs.  It is a 185 foot Haitian freighter that was originally christened the Lady Kimberly.  The ship was built in Holland in 1957, where she spent her last ten years carrying island cargo between Haiti and the Lesser Antilles. 

     In 1997 the Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo towed the vessel from Port au Prince to Fort Lauderdale to use for their annual Seafood Festival sinking.  Renowned marine artist Guy Harvey contributed financially and inspirationally to the ship, which is adorned with painted silhouettes of sharks, sailfish, tarpon, and amber jacks all over the outside of the ship, and then dedicated to all Florida sportsmen and women. 

     On May 10, 1997, the ship was sunk off of Pompano Beach on a sandy bottom in 145 feet of water.  The wheelhouse is at 115 feet while the main deck is at 128 feet.  Although down for only a few years, schools of bait fish and invertebrate life are prospering.  Due to the 145 foot depth and easy penetration below deck, this ship is both a technical dive or a recreational dive when you limit your depth to 130 feet or less.

~ June, 2001 
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The Jim Atria

     The Jim Atria was a Dutch freighter, built in 1961, originally named the Poinciana.  The ship is 227 feet long and had a 34-foot beam. It transported freight throughout the North Sea and later in the 1970ís between the Caribbean and Miami. 

     In 1982, the ship gained notoriety after she capsized and sank in the Miami River.  In 1987, the ship was renamed the Jim Atria,  a local land developer who, along with Broward County, purchased the disabled ship to use as an artificial reef. 

     On September 27, 1987, the ship was sunk a little less than a mile and a half offshore, on the ocean side of the third reef line.  The ship settled on its side in 109 feet of water. Hurricane Andrewís surge pulled the ship almost 400 feet to the northeast, and now it rests in 130 feet, but standing upright.  South Florida Divers club members cleaned and prepared the ship for sinking.  We cut holes in every room so there were three ways out.  When the ship originally landed on itís side, the wreck was very disorientating.  Now that itís upright, it has become one of our best wreck dives.  The shallowest point is in 83 feet of water.  The shipís three masts extend off the 240-foot long hull, in a northwesterly direction.  There is a significant amount of marine growth that now completely conceals some of the sections, which house larger game fish and schooling fish on this great wreck.

~ January, 2002 
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~ Atria drawing courtesy

The Noula Express

     Just under a mile from shore, and slightly more than a mile south of the Boca Raton inlet, lies the 120-foot freighter, Noula Express.  She was originally built in Europe and cruised the Caribbean before it became disabled and abandoned on the Miami River.  Her sinking in 1988 was the first joint project between the Broward County and Palm Beach County Artificial Reef Programs.

     The Noula Express was sunk right on the county line, and its proximity to the dive operators in Pompano Beach make it a frequent stop on their itineraries.  This is an enjoyable and safe wreck to dive.  Instead of using explosives to sink the ship, she was submerged by intentionally flooding her hull.  All of the shipís hatches, doors and other potential safety hazards were eliminated prior to her sinking in relatively shallow water. 

     During Hurricane Andrew, in 1992, the vessel was ripped in two pieces.  The freighter lies in 70 feet of water on the east side of the third reef line, with her bow pointing southward.  The shallowest point of the wreck is her mast, which rises to a depth of 45 feet. 

     Adjacent to the Noula Express, on the southeast side near the bow, divers will discover a submersible that was intentionally sunk after it washed up on the Boca Ratonís north beach.  Local authorities suspected that it had been used to smuggle illegal drugs, although they found no evidence. 

     At one time, the vessel was a subject for underwater photographers, before the surge waters of Hurricane Andrew, flattened it.

~ March, 2002 
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~ Photograph by Edward Murphy 
courtesy of

~ Photograph by Ron Streeter 
courtesy of

The Robert Edmister

     The Robert Edmister was commissioned in 1953 as the 95 foot Coast Guard cutter Cape Gull.  It was stationed in Miami and in 1989 the Cape Gull was decommissioned and sold at federal auction.  It was purchased by Dale Scutti, the father of Jay Scutti, and renamed in memory of a longtime friend, business associate and fellow diver. 

     The cutter was sunk, by the Broward Sheriffís Bomb Squad, in December 1989 and now rests in 72 feet of water off Fort Lauderdale Beach.  The cutter landed upright, listing slightly to the starboard side 1000 feet south of the Jay Scutti.  The top of the mast is in 38 feet of water and main deck is at 58 feet. 

~ April, 2001 
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The Rodeo 25

     Originally christened the Nore in 1956, this 215-foot Dutch freighter was bought and renamed the Stimas.  Over the years, she had been renamed again as the Windward Trader and in 1986 she became a derelict boat on the Miami River. 

     The Pompano Fishing Rodeo bought the ship for their 25th anniversary celebration and renamed her the Rodeo 25.  On May 12th, 1990, with 100,000 plus people in attendance, she was sunk and became one of the best artificial reefs off Pompano. 

     Sitting upright in 122 feet of water, her main deck is at 90 feet, and her two large crane masts reach 52 feet.  Only oil products were removed from her, so everything else remained. 

     The main deck is as far as you need to go to enjoy a wreck with winches, ropes, and intact rooms, so penetration of the ship is not recommended. 

~ April, 2002
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Rodeo 25 pre-sinking
~ Photograph courtesy


Rodeo 25 diagram
Click on drawing for larger image 

The USS Spiegel Grove

     The Spiegel Grove has been a long time in coming, eight years in fact since 1995.  We have tried to run August weekend trips to dive this wreck for years.  We will get our chance, if every thing goes right, this August.

     The ship is a 510-foot long, 12-deck high, USS Navy Amphibious Assault ship called an LSD (Landing Ship Dock).  The ship was named from our 19th president Rutherford Hayes' estate in Ohio.  Some of the upper superstructure had to be removed so there would be a 40 foot clearance below the surface if sank in 130-135 feet of water.  The ship will rise 84 feet off the bottom.

     The ship was commissioned in 1955 and decommissioned in 1989, and weighs in at 6,880 tons.  A real big ship and now it will be the largest diveable military shipwreck where the only other diveable location is Bikini Atol, in the South Pacific. 
This ship is so big, that one hold on the stern of the ship, called the well deck, would be able to hold the entire length of the Duane, the Coast Guard cutter shipwreck in the Keys.  The wreck will have between 10-14 mooring balls, and is almost the length of 2 football fields.  It will take close to 10 dives to see the uppermost decks.

     And here it is, the Spiegel Grove will depart Bay Bridge Enterprises shipyard in Norfork Virginia sometime between May and the end of June.  Bay Bridge Enterprises, in the first month, accomplished what the other contractor did in six months.  As of March 14, 2002, there were only two inspections left.  Towing date was April 15th, but may be delayed only a month or so.  This will be a premier wreck for years.  Plan on joining us on the August Keys weekend!

~ May, 2002
Editor's note:  This article was written in late April, 2002, before the Spiegel Grove arrived in Key Largo with a BIG SPLASH.  Click here to read the saga of the sinking!
Spiegel Grove on the move!

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The Lady in her heyday

Spiegel Grove at the dock

Spiegel Grove helm

Spiegel Grove LSD deck

Spiegel Grove prepares to leave

Spiegel Grove pulls out

The Tenneco Oil Rig

     The Tenneco Oil Rigs are suspended 30 feet off the bottom, in 108 feet of water in Hallandale. It has one of the greatest arrays of fish, coral and invertebrate life of any of our artificial reefs.  Tenneco Oil donated, transported and placed the five sections of Oil Rig #37 from the Middle of the Gulf of Mexico to our coast at great expense. 

     The five sections are in 105-110 feet and two jacket legs are in 190 feet.  The three shallow sections are spaced about 100 yards apart and consist of two upper Derrick sections and one working platform.  The Middle section, which is the working platform, raises four stories from the sandy bottom.  It leans because one leg partially collapsed during Hurricane Andrew. 

     As you approach the 60-foot top deck, you can see that it is covered with steel crane cable, lots of coral, bait fish and an occasional school of tarpon.  Once you descend to the second deck at 75 feet, coral growth, big groupers and lobster inhabit every inch of metal that was exposed.  This is due to the fact that the Tennecoís usually run a good current which provides great quantities of nourishment for its marine life.

~ February, 2002 
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~ Photography by Barry Kulick,
courtesy of

The Thunderbolt

     The 189 foot Thunderbolt was sunk March 6th, 1986, off Marathon in the Florida Keys.  She now lies intact and upright in 120 feet of water with the shipís superstructure at 75 feet. 

     The Thunderbolt was built in June 1942 and christened as the Randolph.  The shipís main function was to build and maintain coastal minefields.  She was put into the Navy Marine Reserve Fleet in 1949. 

     In 1961 the Randolph was sold to a Miami shipping firm.  Ultimately, Florida Power & Light bought her for research on the electrical energy of lighting strikes.  This is where the name Thunderbolt came from. 

     The ship was stripped and has only a few pieces of large equipment which consists of a horizontal cable reel at 80 feet, an observation deck at 75 feet, rudder and propellers at 120 feet.  The aft end of the superstructure has been removed so the interior of the ship is accessible.

     The Thunderbolt will be dived on June 9th, 2001 during the Marathon Keys weekend.   For a look at the layout of the wreck, point your browser to the Thunderbolt resource page at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

~ May, 2002