Kyle Conrad Reef may be shipped to sea as early as Monday

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Kyle Conrad Reef may be shipped to sea as early as Monday

Posted: 01/15/2011

  • By Ed Killer, TCPalm

FORT PIERCE — By sunset Monday, the Atlantic Ocean may have one more place for fish, coral and crustaceans to call home.

Fish habitat creators with the MCAC Reef Fund hope to be able to tow the 70-foot steel tugboat Tuff-E-Nuff out to the Sirotkin Reef permit area managed by Martin County's Coastal Engineering department. The area is about two miles square and is situated in 150 to 180 feet of water about nine miles east-northeast of the St. Lucie Inlet.

Before heading to its final resting place on the sea floor, the tugboat will be rechristened and will bear a steel sign with its new name, Kyle Conrad Reef. The reef project was a wish by the parents and family of Kyle Conrad, 21, a standout soccer player at Jensen Beach High School and Lynn University who lost his life in tragic mishap in early December. Conrad was passionate about watersports and spent much of his time fishing, diving and spearfishing the natural and artificial reefs in Treasure Coast waters.

"It appears as if we will have a good weather window Monday," said John Burke, founder of the MCAC Reef Fund who has worked with Conrad family friend and Jensen Beach dentist Dr. Chris Wigley on raising more than $20,000 s to help pay for the project. Martin County Coastal Engineer Kathy Fitzpatrick was able to obtain permits from the Army Corps of Engineers quickly to ensure the reef could be created in what has been a short time frame for an artificial reef project.

More money is needed to help pay for the towing of the tugboat from St. Mary's, Ga. where the organization Think It Sink It Reef It worked to salvage the vessel from waters where it was partially sunk. TISIRI cleaned the tug and was able to have its unique steam engine salvaged, restored and placed in a museum in Virginia.

The tugboat was finally towed into Harbortown Marina on Taylor Creek in Fort Pierce thanks to an offer from marina general manager Bill Blazek, said Wigley. While docked there, the public is invited to visit the marina to see what may become the Treasure Coast's newest artificial reef structure, said Harbortown dockmaster Capt. Dan Kolodny.

Members of the Conrad and Mang family visited the tugboat Thursday after it arrived in Fort Pierce, said Wigley.

"While they were looking over the tugboat one of them noticed a young dolphin was swimming and playing in Taylor Creek," Wigley said. "The dolphin swam around the boat for about 10 minutes before leaving the waterway. We just had to believe it was Kyle."

The tug will likely be towed to sea via the Fort Pierce Inlet, which is the closest outlet to sea from Harbortown. The sinking of vessels can be very unpredictable and can be strongly influenced by current, tide and wind. Commercial diver and reef building consultant Kerry Dillon will be on site Monday to ensure the tug sinks in its designated spot on the sea floor, will land upright and will not drift atop other reef structures in the same permitted zone.

Last February, MCAC Reef builders sunk the Ted Glasrud Reef there, also a tugboat. In 2003, the Wickstrom Reef, a 180-foot long ship, was placed there. For more on county artificial reefs visit



What is it: Tug boat named Tuff-E-Nuff

Length: 70 feet

Relief_ 20 feet

Built: 1895

Construction: 2- inch thick steel, riveted

Planned deployment: Monday

The public can view the tug boat which is docked on the main fuel dock at Harbortown Marina, 1936 Harbortown Dr., Fort Pierce, dockmaster Capt. Dan Kolodny said. No boarding of the vessel is permitted.

For more information, go to For photos and video of the tugboat visit

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