We made waves in the BVI this week when we sunk, one of the only ships to survive WW2’s Pearl Harbour attack, the Kodiak Queen.
Having watched the Titanic countless times (what can I say, I’m proud to have Kate Winslet in the family!) and having sunk while crossing the Atlantic, I’m no stranger to seeing a ship make its way to the bottom of the ocean. It normally happens with great speed. However – responsible to saving people during times of war – the Kodiak Queen was so beautifully built that it took hours to go down.
When finally overcome by the weight of the water, there was spectacular drama as she slipped away, throwing huge bubbles to the surface. As one point it looked like the event was doomed for failure, as the ship turned tail, but the team did a wonderful job to secure her anchors and guide her to final resting place.
Cheers of joy and relief rung out when we heard her thud against the ocean floor – where the famous vessel will serve her new duty as a permanent eco-friendly underwater art installation.
The team jumped into the water straight afterwards, to explore the wreck. Now known as the BVI Art Reef, it will be a unique platform for capturing people’s attention on the importance of addressing climate change, protecting coral reefs, and rehabilitating vulnerable marine species.
I’m already looking forward to returning for a dive once it has become a thriving marine habitat. Everything from corals to sea sponges, sharks and turtles will live on, in and around the wreck as it helps rehabilitate heavily over-fished marine populations.
The project was a huge team effort with everyone from the BVI Government to local scrap merchants pitching in to make it happen. Congratulations to Unite BVI, Maverick1000, Secret Samurai Productions, Beneath the Waves, Commercial Dive Services, Association of Reef Keepers and everyone involved for getting this amazing project off the ground and under the ocean.
It was so lovely to see the local community embrace an initiative like this. Some of the team involved in building the wreck’s art piece, a giant kraken, have previously created sculptures for the famous Burning Man festival. Unlike Burning Man, where the experience is incredible memorable but fleeting, BVI Art Reef will last for generations – instilling kids, locals and tourists with a passion for ocean conservation.
I couldn’t be more delighted that all this is happening in my own backyard. And it’s just the beginning. We’re already talking about creating and sinking other installations close to the wreck, to make it not only one of the world’s most meaningful reefs, but one of the most vibrant and exciting too.
For more information head over to: www.divethebviartreef.com.
Video by Rob Sorrenti.