It’s time for another artificial reef off the coast of Destin-Fort Walton Beach. This time, it is a 67-foot steel hulled sailboat.
- The vessel is called the CORDONAZO and it, unfortunately, suffered a major fire that resulted in it being condemned. As a result, it was then donated to Okaloosa County to be deployed as an artificial reef.
The CORDONAZO was built in 1958 in Germany and was later found derelict in the Bahamas in the early 90s. The late owner bought the vessel where it eventually made its way to Pensacola, according to the Okaloosa County Coastal Resource Team.
Unfortunately, a fire broke out on the vessel in December 2021 while it was being worked on in drydock. Because of the extensive damage, the vessel was donated to Destin – Fort Walton Beach for deployment as an artificial reef.
“We gladly accepted the vessel and it’s been in the process of being cleaned and prepared to be an artificial reef,” explained Alex Fogg, Okaloosa Coastal Resource Manager. “Because of its age, we had to run some extra tests to make sure that the paint and other components that were still on the vessel would not cause issues for the environment, particularly PCBs.”
- According to Fogg, due to the date the vessel was built and its relatively unknown past, they took extra steps to make sure it was properly cleaned.
“Usually, before the 1970s is when you really have to pay attention,” he added. “This vessel was built in the 1950s and while it has gone through a bunch of retrofits, we don’t want to deploy something that will hurt the environment.”
Fogg says the tests came back as a non-issue and Morgan Marine Salvage & Recovery in Freeport, FL. has since been prepping the boat for deployment.
- Much of the above-deck cabin structure was fiberglass which had to be removed per permit requirements. To add additional structural complexity as an artificial reef, Morgan Marine welded chicken transport units (coops) to the deck.
The vessel was deployed on Wednesday within the Okaloosa County Large Area Artificial Reef Site (LAARS) C permitted area approximately ~14.8nm SSW of Destin’s East Pass at a depth of 113ft.
“This will be the start of Boatyard West,” said Fogg. “We have Boatyard East, which has the MISS JOANNE, the sailing vessel DYLAN, and the motor vessel BRANNON in a tight concentration. This will be the start of a new three-vessel site over to the west in the Large Area Artificial Reef Site.”
- To increase stability, two additional vessels will be deployed in the coming months at the same location and they will be secured to each other.
“Back in 2020, we deployed our first donated vessel, which was the sailing vessel DYLAN,” said Fogg. “Since then, we’ve set a precedent for receiving donated vessels, cleaning them, and getting them deployed. It’s a huge cost savings to the county which allows us to do a lot more with the artificial reef budget that we have to create fishing and diving for locals, as well as the visitors.”
The coordinates for the CORDONAZO is 30° 08.346’N, 86° 33.882’W.