It’s been a long time coming, a journey marked with many obstacles and setbacks. But the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) has issued an update in the planned reefing of the Texas Clipper, part of the ship-to-reef project that will help establish an artificial reef 17 miles off the coast of South Padre Island, targeting mid to late August as the most likely time the ship will be sunk in a 134 feet of blue Gulf water.
With the anticipated date approaching, the Island dive community is rallying in celebration and has scheduled a special “Dive Week” to kick off what state officials say will positively affect the prosperous recreational dive industry on the Island. TPWD officials say the Clipper, once sunk and adapted to its new underwater environment, will become a permanent reef system teeming with underwater life. The local dive and fishing industries are expected to benefit with an estimated $50 million annual boost to the local economy projected as a result.
The First Annual Dive Week is a cooperative event of the TPWD Reef Advisory Committee, the South Padre Island Convention Center, and numerous corporate and local business partners. Participating in the event are NAUI Worldwide, NAUI Technical Diving Operations, American Diving, The Ocean Corporation, Dive Rite, Halcyon, Scuba Pro, Atomic, Travel Lodge, Dorado’s Bar and Grill, Bennys by the Bay, Sea Ranch Marina, M.V. Diver I , M.V. Double Sunshine, and RGBM Diving.
The event is scheduled for September 15-23 and will feature free air and nitrox aboard the Diver I all throughout the week. Local dive companies are offering discount dive trips. Dive boats will depart each day at 7:30 a.m. from Sea Ranch Marina. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 956-761-2030.
Modifications to the ship for diver safety, nautical safety and scientific study are continuing at the Port of Brownsville. Diver guide lines are being installed atop and between the masts which were cut to a level that will lie fifty feet below the surface when she is reefed. Marker buoy and mooring buoy attachments are being installed. As work is completed and the approval process proceeds, TPWD officials say they will provide an update with a more accurate prediction of when they expect to tow her final resting place.