OCEAN CITY — The newest addition to Ocean City’s rapidly growing artificial system could be heading to the bottom any day now with the planned sinking of a 50-foot water taxi from Baltimore about five miles off the coast.
The Ocean City Reef Foundation is planning to sink the former water taxi as soon as a conducive weather window presents itself. The water taxi is the third of its kind donated to the foundation in the last year or so and likely the last for a while, according to Greg Hall of the Ocean City Reef Foundation.
“I think this is the last of them,” he said this week. “Three of them have been donated and this is the third and final one. It’s all ready to go. We just need a little window of decent weather.”
The 50-foot vessel has been completely stripped down in advance of the sinking, a rigorous task performed largely by Captain Monty Hawkins and his crew on the “Morning Star.” Sunset Marina provided the staging area for the mitigation of the vessel and Salisbury Brick provided a couple of large pallets of cinder blocks, which serve the dual purpose of weighting the vessel and contributing to the nooks and crannies needed for a successful artificial reef. High Tech Marine also provided welding services for the vessel’s eventual deployment.
Hall explained the vessel will be towed to an area near the existing Russell’s Reef site roughly five miles straight out from the Inlet. The addition of the retired water taxi will be named in honor of long-time fishing and reef building advocate and West Ocean City tackle and marine supply store owner Doug Ake.
Hall explained this week the complicated process for the sinking.
“After the vessel is completely stripped and cleaned, we cut holes in the hull and put patches on them,” he said. “Then, it’s towed to the destination and the patches are removed little by little so we can lower it on the reef. Hopefully, this one goes down easier than the last one.”
Hall was referring to another Baltimore water taxi sunk over the relatively new Jimmy Jackson Memorial Reef in the area of the Bass Grounds about seven or eight miles off the coast. The artificial reef was named for the late Jackson, a popular local and nationally known angler and sportfishing enthusiast who passed away in 2010.
Hall said that former water taxi is already achieving the desired results as an artificial reef.
“It’s crusted over pretty good already and it’s teeming with fish,” he said. “These water taxis are made of good steel and they’ll last a long, long time.”