Lady Luck Will Join Pompano's Shipwreck Park As An Underwater Faux Casino And Artificial Reef
South Florida divers are about to hit the jackpot—a casino-themed shipwreck will soon be open to divers as the area's newest artificial reef.
The tanker ship, called Lady Luck, will be scuttled (or sunk) off Pompano Beach's shore at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 23. She'll join 16 other existing wrecks and become the centerpiece of Shipwreck Park, a not-for-profit underwater attraction featuring rotating art exhibits.
While the best place to view the event will be from a boat—the sinking will take place about a mile to a mile-and-a-half offshore—organizers suspect some members of the public may gather to watch from the Pompano Pier.
Prior to its scheduled sink date, the New York City tanker ship, formerly called the Newtown Creek, was towed to a facility on the Miami River for cleanup and artwork installation. The City of Pompano Beach and Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park (in part, the inspiration for the ship's casino-themed sculptural elements) helped sponsor the purchase, towing, cleanup and sinking.
"Lady Luck is not the first to be sunk out there, but this probably will be the most iconic," said Rob Wyre, vice chair of Shipwreck Park.
From a gambling-savvy octopus, to giant dice and a poker table full of card "sharks," Lady Luck will be decked out (no pun intended) with whimsical, casino-themed marine sculptures. The pieces were created by Pompano Beach artist Dennis MacDonald, who also worked on the Easter Island-style sculptures that ended up getting crushed off Deerfield Beach last summer.
"It's going to attract visitors from around the world," Wyre said. "It not only provides a great opportunity for diving for our local residents … but it will also get international attention."
The Pompano Beach Art Counsel has commissioned additional sea-themed art, such as starfish and sand dollars, that will appear on the shipwreck.
In fact, the entire artificial reef should be more accessible than most, Wrye notes. Boaters can arrive easily from the Hillsboro Inlet and Port Everglades, with Wyre estimating divers can reach the site in as little as 15 minutes.
The 324-foot tanker is about the size of a football field, giving divers much to explore. Based on Lady Luck's sheer size, organizers expect it will take more than one dive experience to explore the entire underwater site and all of its artwork.
Lady Luck will be the first of what should hopefully be many projects at Shipwreck Park, Wyre added, as he aims to draw more excitement to the area and bring some of the future wrecks even closer to shore.
These artificial reefs are expected to attract marine life and take pressure off the natural reefs that already draw divers.
"It really makes the whole reef system … a lot healthier and a lot more vibrant," Wyre said.
See photos of some of the sculptures, below:
UPDATE — Shipwreck Park shared this video following the successful sinking of Lady Luck on July 23.
Correction: A previous version of this article described one sculpture as a card-slinging octopus. The octopus is, in fact, depicted manning a craps table.