A little after 6 am the Dawn Star departs Harbor Town Marina with the Tuff-E-Nuff / Kyle Conrad Memorial Reef Structure in tow. The Dawn Star had a crew of three including Capt Tim Lawton and Vinny Casale and the Tuff-E-Nuff included three friends of the MCAC and TISIRI’s Joe Kistel and Ed Kalakauskis.
The trip started in the back waters before sunrise when all was calm and peaceful. By the time we reached the mouth of the inlet, in anticipation of the open ocean 25 mile tow to the reef site, the Atlantic began to stir. At first the seas were in the three feet range which was not bad but enough to change or tow to a “pull-behind” method. AS we continued our journey south east the Seas continued to grow. Before long we were in seas of 6 feet with an occasional 8 footer (these type of conditions were not in the weather forecast models). Towing an artificial reef vessel in these kinds of seas gets real interesting. The entire trip out took about 8 hours and it felt like we were on the show “deadliest catch” the whole time.
Once we finally arrived to the site the vessel was anchored. Kistel and Kalakauskis went down into the engine room to open the sea cocks and the sinking process was started. Shortly after all aboard the Tuff-E-Nuff were transferred to the Dawn Star (which was a bit tricky in such sea conditions). It took a couple hours for the vessel to sink and due to the environmental conditions the vessel finally went down a good ways from where she was originally anchored.
The vessel is said to be about 9 miles North East of the St Lucie inlet in roughly 165 feet of water. It is hoped weather conditions improve in the near future so the Kyle Conrad Reef can be enjoyed by visitors.
This project is a reality do to the contributions and efforts of many. Just a few are mentioned below:
Especially Ed Kalakauskis and Larry Davis
Chris K’nerr (Chris provided the vessel to TISIRI for the Reef project)
St. Marys Boat services
US Coast Guard
Friends and family of Kyle Conrad
Dawn Star and her crew
Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce