On Wednesday, February 8, TowboatUS Kent Narrows and Knapps Narrows (TBUS KN) worked in conjunction with the Maryand Department of Natural Resources to sink a 52-foot Ferro-cement ketch in the waters north of Love Point, Kent Island. She will serve as a new artificial reef site for the Chesapeake Bay.

artificial reef
It took less than an hour for the cement sailboat to go down. Photos courtesy of TBUS KN

We caught up with Captains Sarah and Adam Lawrence of TBUS KN to discuss how this all came about.

Sarah says, “It was awesome! Normally we’re raising boats, so it was kind of ironic, but it was really neat.”

In regards to the history of the cement sailboat, Adam explained how “No one knows exactly who the owner was. She had been there for a few decades at Cedar Point Marina; came in between 20 and 30 years ago. The gentleman who owned her had sailed her once, put her on the hard, and for the next two decades, the marina received a check every month for that boat. But as it sat there it literally sank into the marsh on that side of the marina. About two years ago, those checks stopped coming and they believed the gentleman passed away. The marina then began the process of getting the sailboat deemed an abandoned vessel.”

Adam and Sarah are currently in the process of researching who built the vessel, as someone has come forward who believes she may know more of its backstory. Stay tuned to see what they find out!

artificial reef
The coordinates of the new artificial reef site are N39° 04.096’ W076°17.370’.

TBUS KN worked with Cedar Point Marina, and they essentially gutted the whole boat. They also worked with Mike Malpezzi, the Maryland DNR artificial reefs coordinator, who thought the cement boat would be great structure for an artificial reef. TBUS KN towed the boat to its final resting place, which was already an artificial reef zone on NOAA charts. Cement and steel structures have been dumped there over the years, so the cement boat was a nice addition.

The night before the sinking, she was put in the water with pumps to see how she would float. Water was seeping through the cement, and it began to take on two feet of water that the pumps were working to remove.

They left the marina just after noon on February 8, and started sinking her around 2:50 p.m. It took just less than an hour for her to go down. She had two large holes underneath the water line, and TBUS KN put plugs in so that she could be towed. When it was time for her to sink, they had a diver in the boat who popped out those plugs.

Once the boat actually went down, they put two divers in the water to check her position and found that she was sitting perfectly upright on her keel in about 27 to 29 feet of water (with about 19 feet of water on top of her). Visibility is about three feet.

The coordinates of the new artificial reef site are N39° 04.096’ W076°17.370’. For more videos of the sinking, visit facebook.com/TowBoatUSKentNarrows.