Wrecks of Maui

by Ed Robinson

St. Anthony on the beach

It almost became a wreck before it became a wreck. In October of '97 the accumulation of efforts to bring Maui divers a new wreck attraction almost ended in disaster when the 65 foot ship, the St. Anthony, broke from her temporary overnight mooring and ended up on Ulua Beach. After a number of failed attempts by local boats to pull the hulk free, the day was saved by a private yacht the Golden Shadow that just happened to be spending a few days off the Kihei coast and was huge enough to mussel the wreck from her sandy perch.

Not wanting to take any more chances, Jim Housh and a motley crew of local divers immediately towed the St. Anthony to the appropriate dive location and scuttled her post haste.

Jim, as head of this project, says it is just the first of many ships that will be reclaimed from derelict status and used to enhance diving opportunities and take pressure off some of the heavily utilized popular dive sites around the State. Housh is a marine industry lobbyist from Kihei and a board member of the Malama Kai Foundation which is dedicated to preserve and enhance the ocean environment.

The St. Anthony was originally a Louisiana shrimper that relocated in Hawaii as a long-line fisher after the shrimping industry collapsed. It eventually ended up a derelict in Honolulu Harbor and was destine to be sunk in deep water for removal. For several years Housh has been plowing the political fields, attempting to redirect numerous abandon ships that were scheduled to be sunk. Finally, through the generosity of several Maui residents and businesses the funds were available to make this ship environmentally (and diver) safe and to tow it to Maui.

Now the St. Anthony rest in seventy feet of water, adjacent a cement and tire artificial reef several hundred yards off Keawakapu Beach. Because of the existing artificial reef there are already large schools of "weke" or goatfish and myriad tropical fish surrounding the wreck. She doesn't look like much yet but the dive is still interesting and promises to get better as time goes on.

For the future, Jim has his eyes on a 180 foot ship that was used to smuggle Chinese immigrants into the United States a few years ago and was seized by the Coast Guard. The Sea Tiger remains rusting in Honolulu Harbor as of this writing. Donations are needed and welcome. Cleanup on a ship of this size is expensive and necessary before it can be sunk as an artificial reef and divers wreck.

Malama Kai Foundation is a non profit organization that was formed in 1990 with a $10,000 donation from the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia. The foundation (and Jim) are better known for their effort in getting day-use moorings installed on all the State's popular dive sites.

January 2008 update: Shortly after this article was written Jim Housh moved to the mainland. Three years ago ERDA became a founding member of the "Maui Reef Fund" which is Maui's version of the Malama Kai Foundation. Maui Reef Fund is currently the only entity that is officially maintaining moorings around Maui County. As contributed funds grow the Maui Reef Fund also intends to acquire several more artificial (wreck) reefs for Maui Island. You may donate to the Maui Reef Fund or through ERDA if you would like to help us achieve this goal.

-- Ed Robinson - 4/10/98