Former Menhaden Boat Becomes Centerpiece of AR 400

Jerry Dilsaver
August 07, 2007 at 11:03 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Water blows from several holes as the Capt. Greg MicKey slips beneath the waves to become a part of AR 400, near Frying Pan Tower.
Photo courtesy of N.C. DMF
Water blows from several holes as the Capt. Greg MicKey slips beneath the waves to become a part of AR 400, near Frying Pan Tower.
It has taken a while and been rescheduled three times, but thanks to the hard work and dedication of many volunteers, the former menhaden boat, Coastal Mariner, has been re-christened the Captain Greg MicKey and assumed its final resting place near the center of AR 400, Frying Pan Tower Reef.

According to N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Artificial Reef Group director, Jim Francesconi, the Captain Greg MicKey slipped beneath calm seas near the historic Frying Pan Tower at 6:33 P.M. on August 4. 

"This project ran 14 months behind schedule but the friends of Capt. MicKey and the volunteers at the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association (LBARA) and the Onslow Bay Artificial Reef Association (OBARA) never lost sight of the goal and kept working diligently until it came to pass," Francesconi said.  "We implemented this, but those are the people that made it happen."

Shortly after MicKey's untimely death during a diving trip to Frying Pan Tower, the Coastal Mariner, a menhaden boat formerly owned and operated by Beaufort Fisheries, was decommissioned and made available to be purchased and sunk as part of an artificial reef.  In a joint project of the LBARA and the OBARA (Long Bay and Onslow Bay meet at Frying Pan Shoals), with generous assistance from friends of Capt. MicKey, the Coastal Mariner was purchased to be re-christened as the Captain Greg MicKey and placed to begin the reef on the site where MicKey lost his life.

To many fishermen, having a former menhaden boat as the centerpiece of this reef is ironically fitting.  

The Coastal Mariner was towed from a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia to Morehead City on August 3, 2007.  It was then re-christened as the Capt. Greg MicKey and returned to sea on the voyage to its final resting place at AR 400, close to Frying Pan Tower.  It arrived on site at approximately 3:30 P.M. on the afternoon of August 4 to be positioned and sunk.  The sinking required just over 3 hours.

When the ship settled on the ocean bottom, Capt. MicKey's wife, Julia, scattered some flowers on the site.  Then she and several close friends enjoyed a free dive to the bridge railing for a final goodbye.  It was both a somber and exhilarating time.

"The ship is sitting upright in 70 feet of water, less than a quarter-mile, north-northeast of the (Frying Pan) tower," Francesconi said.  "The water was clear enough we could see it and it looks good.  It won't be very long before it is easily located by the swarm of baitfish hovering over it."

The GPS coordinates for the Capt. Gregg MicKey are 33.29.302N and 077.35.265W.  This location is near the center of the permitted site for AR 400 and merely a few hundred yards northeast of Frying Pan Light Tower.  Artificial reef sites permits are issued for a one-mile circle and the tower is just inside the perimeter in the southwest quadrant of the AR 400 site.  Frying Pan Tower sits in 50 feet of water, at the offshore end of Frying Pan Shoals.  Its location, at 33.29.100N and 077.35.390W, is approximately 30 miles offshore of Cape Fear and 20 miles inshore of the Gulf Stream. 

This is one of many projects by the DMF Artificial Reef Group, the LBARA and the OBARA.  Supporters of the artificial reef projects are invited to participate in the LBARA “Club Challenge” Flounder-King Mackerel Tournament September 21st and 22nd, 2007.  The event will be held at Oak Island and more information is available on the LBARA web site at www.lbara.com or by calling 910-278-4137. 






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