Lady Luck will be scuba diving attraction

July 21, 2016 | By Shipwreck Park

When the Lady Luck artificial reef is sunk off Pompano Beach on Saturday, it will not only provide habitat for a variety of marine life but also a highly anticipated destination for South Florida scuba divers.

The 324-foot tanker is slated to be on the bottom at 115-120 feet, according to Jeff Torode.

Torode is on the board of Pompano Shipwreck Park, where numerous artificial reefs have been created over the years, about two dozen of them by the Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo.

He said when Lady Luck is on the bottom, its deck should be 90-100 feet below the surface and its highest point only 50 feet below surface, making it easily accessible to divers of all abilities.

“It’s kind of like a wall dive,” said Torode, who owns South Florida Diving Headquarters in Pompano Beach. “If you’re not qualified to dive 120 feet, there’s plenty of stuff to see up above there.”

Torode said Lady Luck will have so many dive boats diving it that anglers will have all the other local wrecks to themselves.

“I expect some Christmas cards from fishermen,” Torode joked.

In addition to the appeal of Lady Luck’s accessibility is its 324-foot length, which is exceptionally big for a wreck that shallow in Shipwreck Park.

“It should be impressive underneath the water, so that’s a big attraction,” said Jim Mathie of Deerfield Beach, who dives in local waters several days a week.

Mathie added that 130 feet is the maximum depth for recreational scuba divers, so he and his crew on his boat Chiefy will have plenty to see.

“For us that’ll work out fine,” Mathie said. “There’s plenty of wreck to look at. That’s a nice thing about a wreck that size: You can spend a whole dive on it. A lot of wrecks, after one pass around you’re pretty much done.”

Brian Gagas of Gold Coast Scuba in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, which offers a variety of local dives, echoed Mathie’s sentiments.

“One of the most requested wrecks that we have out here is the Capt. Dan because it’s so well-together and the depth is perfect for an advanced nitrox diver with a lot of swim-throughs,” Gagas said, noting that Capt. Dan is 175 feet long and rests on the bottom in 110 feet.

“Lady Luck is Capt. Dan on steroids. And it’s 50 feet from the surface, which makes it perfect for open water divers.”

Gold Coast has a Lady Luck dive scheduled for Sunday morning and only one spot on the dive boat remained as of Thursday afternoon.

Torode also has been booking dive trips for Lady Luck, which has a fairly open main deck that is decorated with fanciful sculptures (visit shipwreckparkpompano.org).

There’s a craps table with an octopus, a poker table with several “card” sharks, a mermaid, giant dice and starfish, all of which should generate loads photos for local and visiting divers. For example, at one card table, a diver can pose as the dealer for the card sharks.

“Most freighters have nothing on the deck,” said Torode of other artificial reefs. “This was a tanker,” so there was plenty of room for the artwork.

Torode said there are plans for a charity poker tournament that will start at the Isle Casino in Pompano Beach and end with the six finalists playing underwater on Lady Luck at one of the ship’s gaming tables.

Although the artwork is made of concrete and steel, Torode said boats diving on Lady Luck should anchor in the sand adjacent to the wreck to avoid hitting the sculptures. He added that Lady Luck has numerous places where divers can swim down and attach lines from their boats to hold them in place.

Torode also asked that boaters stay a safe distance from the ship before it sinks on Saturday, as heavy hatches will be removed as Lady Luck is flooded and sent to the bottom.

A boat that gets too close and is hit by one of those hatches could end up on the bottom next to Lady Luck.