Diving the M/V Castor, home of the Goliath Groupers

We visited the M/V Castor recently as word was getting around that there were between 40 and 60 Goliath Groupers spawning in this area, which has been known to be a favorite hangout of these magnificent beasts. We were excited about heading out but a little nervous as we’d also heard that this was a spot for fierce currents. As we approached the wreck, it was a good 30 minutes out from the outlet at a good pace, the boat was full of experienced divers anticipating seeing the groupers. Being Advanced Open Water was a minimum requirement.

Goliath Grouper on the M/V Castor, courtesy of our diving friend Eric Allgair

The Divemaster came up shaking his head about the current and said it was a reluctant ‘go’ for everyone as long as we held on to the rope tight on the decent. In fact, we had to jump in as a close-knit group to swim with the current to the buoy to catch the mooring line.

Going down was literally an arm over arm exercise with the current pulling our torso and legs out horizontally. I imagine this is how a flag feels in a storm! While one can never predict the current, and we were told that on some days the site is so quiet there is barely any movement, those that had been here before told us that they had also had strong currents on multiple occasions.

Once down the line at 70 or so feet, what is left of the wreck starts to emerge. Having been sunk in 2001, there is substantial growth and a lot of beautiful colors. Many areas of the wreck are open and penetrable for qualified divers. The main deck is at 90 feet and it’s 110 to the sand. By staying behind the bulk of the wreck one is sheltered from the currents.

Coral on the M/V Castor
Coral on the M/V Castor

Originally a cargo ship, the Castor was seized smuggling drugs by the Coast Guard and eventually sunk as part of the Palm Beach County program to buildup artificial reefs. The wreck itself when sunk was originally 258 feet in length but time and a number of storms have broken her up. Much of the structure is on its side, but one can still see the bow upright. Many consider this a must dive site in South Florida and the sight of those Goliath Groupers is something that is amazing to see. We’d love to come back on a calmer day.

Goliath Grouper on the M/V Castor, courtesy of our diving friend Eric Allgair

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