PBCDA’s Artificial Reef Fund / Wrecks
It’s inspiring when you drop down to the bottom of the seabed and the high profile of a ship’s bow or stern snaps into view. There’s something about a wreck that holds an element of mystery for most divers. What is inside? Where has this vessel been? And how did it end up here?
If you dive in Palm Beach, there’s a good chance you’ve visited the Danny Wreck. This 110-foot, World War II vintage tugboat, formerly called the Pocahontas, was placed on the bottom back in Feb 22, 2013 for the purpose of creating an artificial reef. Today, this vessel sits completely upright in 75 feet of water, and making it even more exciting –and fun to dive- is its resident goliath groupers and large cut out areas for divers to penetrate. So, why is it now called The Danny?
Danny “Daniel” McCauley was an avid fishermen and diver whose life was cut short at the age of 17 in a tragic automobile accident while on the way to school in 2012. Many of his classmates at Palm Beach Central High School knew and loved him for his good nature and camaraderie as a member of the varsity wrestling team. But his family and friends knew that the ocean was what Danny loved most.
As a means to celebrate his life, the McCauley family donated $10,000 to the PBC’s Environmental Resources Management (ERM) for the acquisition of a new artificial reef, which the Diving Association was currently working on at the time. With the combined efforts of Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the Doitfordanny.com fundraiser (where the McCauley family funds were derived), along with the PBCDA’s own non-profit Artificial Reef Fund (ARF), the objective to create a new dive site was made a reality. In addition to this tremendous initiative being shared by all parties, the decision to rename the wreck after Danny McCauley was equally unanimous.
Sitting upright on the bottom with the deck in the 50-foot range, the Danny is an excellent dive for many open water divers. Currents in this area can sometimes be strong, but staying close to the wreck provides enough shielding allowing divers to easily move about.
Although the tug’s engines and operating equipment have all been removed, large holes were cut in the deck and cabin, making it open and easily accessible.
Adding to its great value as a training site for divers on a Wreck Diver Specialty Certification course, there are several smaller rooms to peak in, while the ladders and stairways remind you that this was once a working boat.
Should the Danny not be enough, there are several more artificial reefs to its north that have been placed over the years by Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resources Management (ERM).
One of those is the Spud Barge, another popular dive site offering a massive barge wreck lying upside down with its sides opened up. Divers can move about, accessing the barge from one side, exiting from the other and back again.
Ocean Memorials – artificial reefs to remember those we’ve lost
In light of the 3rd year anniversary of the sinking of the Danny McCauley Memorial Reef, the Palm Beach County Diving Association (PBCDA) has been working hard to add additional new and exciting sites for divers to explore – namely the placement of another derelict ship on the sea floor to serve as artificial reef. The most promising candidate for Palm Beach County’s artificial reef program is the MV Ana Cecilia, a 170-foot vessel seized by US Border Patrol back in 2015. Should the Ana Cecilia be acquired, two of the locations currently under consideration is the back side of Breakers Reef in 110 feet of water, and a spot nearby the Danny, in 90 feet of water. However, such an endeavor will not take place without sufficient funding.
While a portion of the revenue comes from vessel registration fees to grants from federal and state agencies collected by ERM, a majority of the revenue stream is derived from a surprising number of sources. Such avenues include donations from various individuals and corporations, local fishing tournaments, and the Palm Beach County Diving Association (PBCDA).
In addition to conducting fund raising events for the Artificial Reef Fund (ARF) such as the PBCDA Summer’s End Party coming up Sept. 17th, 2016, there is also a memorial program where you can make a contribution to honor a loved one and others.
Memorials underway include the families of Danny Floyd Posey (April 17, 1953 – November 22, 2015) and David Ballard (August 1, 1947 - December 4, 2015).
Picture of David Ballard with his daughter Lindsay Ballard during a dive here in Palm Beach, FL.
While both avid divers come from two different places – one from Augusta, GA, the other from Houston, Texas, their commonality was that they shared the same love for Palm Beach County, Florida’s diving. This love of Palm Beach County diving is remembered fondly by both the Posey and Ballard families, who have donated toward the artificial reef program, and have encouraged others to follow suit. While most donations do not reach the level of the McCauley family what should be considered with a degree of certainty is the end result.
Artificial reefs not only provide habitat for marine life, they also take pressure off of natural reefs by giving divers another option for exploration. Furthermore, studies show that every $1 spent on the creation of an artificial reef produces an estimated $138 in economic benefit to the local economy. A great return on investment for a great place like Palm Beach County.
For more information on making a contribution to Palm Beach County Artificial Reef Program, please contact Shana Phelan, PBCDA Administrator at 561.840.8750.