Angels Reef Foundation

pavan, Ray and Jim

Photo: Arilton Pavan (Dixie Divers)
Ray McAllister and Jim Mathie

Pavan,Chad, Ken and Craig

"The Team" - Arilton Pavan (Dixie Divers)
Chad Grecsek (Deerfield Beach) Ken Banks
(Broward County) Craig Ash (Cepemar)

New Wreck of The Miracle of Life | The Wreck of the M/V Miss Lourdes | New Wreck Dive, Deerfield Beach, Florida

The idea of placing a shipwreck off of Deerfield Beach started nine years ago. "As I see it, as a dive store owner, we can do a better job by creating more artificial reefs to benefit the environment and also our local economy," said A. Pavan, the owner of Dixie Divers. "I tried to create an artificial wreck the first time in conjunction with the Deerfield Beach Chamber of Commerce, Jim Mathie, the organizer of the annual Beach Blowout, Jim Mathie, and with the assistance of local diving legend Ray McAllister. A couple of times we got very close to acquiring a ship to make into an artificial reef, but there were problems with the permits and coordinating with local government. This time, we have every thing in place."

"This time I tried a different approach by working with the city instead of directly with Broward County," he continued. "After getting all the support from the city, we started coordinating with Ken Banks, the Coordinator from Broward County Artificial Reefs, and Carmen of Palm BeachCounty. The most important change was getting the City of Deerfield Beach to support our idea, which gave us an inside track to move through the governmental process. I believe this first shipwreck is just the start of a massive endeavor to persuade more large ships to come to this area by increasing the number of artificial reefs off Deerfield.

"This [more artificial reefs] attracts more divers and fisherman alike. This will help the local hotels, restaurants and small businesses in general by bringing more people to this area to enjoy the attractions. The city of Deerfield Beach did a study, which shows the Miracle of Life will stimulate the economy by increasing the amount of money spent in the area. I really believe, with support from the community, city volunteers and charitable donations we can turn some old, rusted ships haunted by their use to smuggle drugs into a new habitat for marine life and help the local economy at the same time," he said.

History of Project Shipwreck: Miss Lourdies (Miracle of Life)

Pavan,Chad, Ken and Craig

Photo:Arilton Pavan (Dixie Divers)
Chad Grecsek (City Deerfield Beach)
Craig Ash (Cepemar)
and US Customs Agents (Miami).

Pavan chad Craig US Costums

Photo:Environmental Cleaning Contractor working on the vessel.

June 29th, 2008- U.S Customs and Border Patrol seized a vessel with 154 kilos of cocaine aboard the 165-foot freighter named Miss Lourdies. The vessel was confiscated by U.S customs.

US Customs and Border Patrol agents doing a random inspection Thursday (26 June) found more than 150 kilos of cocaine inside a freighter on the Miami River. Agents who randomly inspect ships docked at the Port of Miami and on the Miami River noticed an irregular noise when they tapped on the hull of the Haitian freighter near the 2200 block of Northwest South River Drive. When they broke through the wall, the agents found a steel compartment that was bolted shut and filled with 154 kilos of cocaine.

"They actually had to take the bunk beds and the walls out of the crew cabins, open up a metal compartment, and this is where they found the cocaine," said Zachary Mann of Customs and Border Protection. According to the ship's log, the 165-foot freighter named Miss Lourdies was in Miami to pick up cars, bicycles and mattresses to sell in Haiti.

"It's a significant find. We used to have a lot of activity like this on the river," Mann said. "It just goes to show you that we're still out here looking, and today was a very significant day in that we found a large quantity of cocaine and we've taken it off the streets."

Authorities detained six people in connection with the drugs. Customs and Border Patrol agents are trying to determine who knew the cocaine was in the ship and who was trying to sell it. United States Customs and Border Patrol (US Customs) confiscated the freighter after performing a routine inspection along the Miami River in June 2008. Agents found more than 150 kilos of cocaine inside the freighter in a concealed steel compartment. The freighter is currently docked near the 2200 block of Northwest South River Drive on the Miami River in Miami.

October 6th, 2008- Ken Banks contacted Pavan, owner of Dixie Divers, to let him know there is a possible vessel available in Miami.

November 16th, 2008- Dan Fasano committed to help pay for the cost of cleaning the new shipwreck.

December 2nd, 2008- Deerfield Beach city commissioners voted accepting the ship to make it an artificial reef off Deerfield Beach with no cost to the city.

March 13th, 2009- Contract signed between stakeholders, Dixie Divers A. Pavan (financial provider), Chad Grecsek City of Deerfield Beach (government agency) and Bruce Sugar Bunnell Foundation, Inc., Environment Cleaning Contractor.

March 20th, 2009- Vessel was transferred from U.S Customs to the City of Deerfield Beach and later to the Bunnell Foundation, Inc. Environmental Cleaning Contractor at the port on the Miami River.

March 23rd, 2009- Bunnell Foundation, Inc started the cleaning process on a private dock at 2750 NW N. River Drive, off the Miami River.

April 18th, 2009- Dan Fasono (Miracle of Life) and Arilton Pavan (Dixie Divers) acquired the Angel Guardian Statue from Bernard Molyneux owner of Antiques & Country Pine. The statue has a height of 14 feet and weights 3500 Lbs. and is made of solid bronze. The statue will be placed on the vessel before it sinks.

May 1st, 2009- The Angel Statue was placed on the vessel and secured, ready to be part of the Miracle of Life Artificial Reef.

May 4th, 2009- The site at N26 19.230', W80 03.358 was video surveyed, using the boat "SeaHorse" of LightHouse with crew Captain Derol Wilmoth, Joe Masterson (Video), Domingos Souza (Support Diver), Arilton pavan (Support Diver), and Ray McAllister (Commanding Chief Adviser)

May 30th 2009- The first attempt the sink the wreck was planned, but weather and permitting requirements forced postponement until June 6th. The same day we Dixie Divers organized the Pier and Beach Clean-Up in Deerfield Beach. We had about 90 divers 50 volunteers and we collected 800 Lbs of lead and 25 bags of garbage in general fishing line, cellular phones etc... Click here for info. About our Annual Pier / Beach Clean-Up.

June 6th 2009- Miracle of Life Shipwreck was born surrounded by 80 private boats, 5 charter dive boats, 300 people watched and partied on the Pier of Deerfield Beach. The day was perfect weather conditions. The miracle is sitting nice and upright in 142 feet of water; the top of the wheelhouse is at 100 feet and the Angel statue is at 110 feet. GPS marks Lat 26 19.162 Lon 80 03.198 Lat (Bow) Lat 26 19.180 Lon 80 03.195 (Stern). More info. about click here.

June 9th 2009- Our friend Dan Fasano pass away after a long battle with Cancer leukemia. Dan was the key person with this project by help financial and organizes different activates. Founder of Miracle of Life Foundation that will continue his Mary Bath Fasano with the goal of contribute to cancer cure research and create new Artificial reefs off Deerfield Beach. More info. About Miracle of Life Foundation go to

Two different perspectives

Changing the name of the vessel by Dan Fasano

I am so honored and proud to be the sponsor of the naming and sinking of the new Miracle of Life Shipwreck. My friend Pavan at Dixie Divers has gone to great depth to arrange this event. Pavan not knowing that as time grew nearer acquiring this vessel would become so meaningful by adding new life to our precious Ocean Sea Life, but also brought new meaning to my life.

I became a newly certified Open Water Diver in mid 2006 after great fears of swimming in the Ocean, I quickly learn of how wonderful the experience of diving was and experiencing the sea life was now my passion. In January of 2007 I received disturbing news that I have been diagnosed with Leukemia (ALL-Acute Lymphoblast Leukemia). I that spent the next seven months undergoing chemo treatments at the H.E. Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida and quickly went into remission, unfortunately it only lasted for the nineteen month. My doctors at Moffitt explained that the only chance for a possible cure was to have a Bone Marrow Transplant. As of January 17, 2009 I am like a new born baby with a 65 days old immune system, a Miracle of Life thanks to a twenty- four old Bone Marrow Donor. The sinking of this vessel is the meaning of the Miracle of Life that can be renewed. As founder of and proud sponsor for funding this now to be annual event and in recognition and support of my not for profit Miracle of Life Foundation, the Leukemia Lymphoma Foundation, Hospice of South Florida, and H. E. Moffitt Cancer Center. This is a monumental event that has not occurred in more the 5 year on the coast of South East Florida and to dedicate the sinking of this vessel raising awareness to all the worthy causes that will one day affect all of or lives.

Please visit our web site for update beginning April of 2009 at or for more information about donations to the Miracle of Life Foundation please contact Dan Fasano email

Dan Fasano Diving

Photo:Dan Fasano Diving Off Deerfield Beach, Florida


Miss Lourdies (Miracle of Life) Feasibility Study by Craig Ash (Cepemar)

The Natural Resources Planning and Management Division of the Broward County Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department (Broward County) was contacted by US Customs about the availability of the freighter as an artificial reef. Broward County in turn contacted Mr. Arilton Pavan, owner and operator of Dixie Divers of Deerfield Beach, knowing that Mr. Pavan was actively looking for opportunities to create artificial reefs in Deerfield Beach.

Cepemar Environmental Services (Cepemar), a provider of environmental and marine consulting services, was contacted by Mr. Pavan to support the artificial reef initiative.

In 1982, Florida created a program to support the development and the monitoring of artificial reefs placed along the states coast. The development of artificial reefs in the state has been slightly decentralized, typically built through the coordinated efforts of a county or city governmental unit (permit holder) and citizens, using mostly materials of opportunity, such as concrete rubble, scrap steel and vessels/barges (Woods, 1999). Currently, Florida has the largest complement of permitted artificial reefs reported in the nation (Adams et al., 2006).

Benefits of artificial reefs range from increasing reef fish habitats to socio-economic benefits to coastal communities. In Florida, there is also the role that artificial reefs can play on the restoration of reef habitat lost through activities such as beach re-nourishment and accidental vessel groundings and the protection of vulnerable shorelines due to erosion from wave activity (Dodrill, 2007). The following are some of the benefits this project can bring:

Social and Economical Benefits

Artificial reefs can be used to enhance the biological system and the fisheries on a site. The benefits are not only on the recreational opportunities and related areas, but can also in the biological system of the area, as those structures create or improve spawning substrate, and thus increasing fish populations and species diversity (Evander, 1985).

Such enhancements result in intangible benefits to the overall health and sustainability of the marine environment (Woods, 1999).

Improvements lead to an increment on diving and marine recreational fishing activities. Recreational activities related to artificial reefs encompasses many aspects of the tourism industry that are also positively affected, such as hotels, motels, restaurants, boat rentals, fishing guides, bait and tackle shops (Evander, 1985). Just in 2004, the tourism industry in Florida contributed with $57 billion to the State economy (State of Florida, 2007).

In South Florida, (Adams et al. 2006) reports that the economic values associated with artificial and natural reef systems in southeast Florida have been recently measured. Johns, Leeworthy, Bell, and Bonn (2001) examined the economic impact and use values associated with both types of reef systems (artificial and natural). The study, including Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties, found that non-residents and visitors annually spent $1.7 billion on fishing and diving activities associated with artificial reefs, resulting in approximately 27,000 jobs in the region and created $782 million in wages and salaries. The studies reviewed by Adams et al. (2006) show that artificial reefs do increase economic activity in surrounding communities and are valued by users and non-users alike. The benefits provided exceed the costs, and thus being considered a source of economic value that may justify additional deployments, even after taking into account the opportunity costs associated with scarce public funds (Woods, 1999; Adams et al. 2006).

Local Benefits

Dixie Divers conducted in informal economic study in 2005 on the impact of the scuba diving on the local hotels. Hotels that participated in the study included:

  • Comfort Inn
  • Comfort Suites and Best Western
  • Hilton of Deerfield Beach
  • Wellesley Inn
  • Deerfield Buccaneer Apartment Suites
  • Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel and Resort

In 2005, more than 875 hotel rooms in Deerfield Beach were rented by scuba divers associated with Dixie Divers charters and diving/snorkeling services alone. This translates to about 2,600 occupants (an average of 3 persons per room) spending money on groceries and supplies, eating in local restaurants, entertainment, fuel and other tourism-related services. As mentioned above, the economic value extends beyond the immediate services and into the surrounding community as well.


Dr. Banks has been very supportive of the Deerfield Beach artificial reef initiative. According to Dr. Banks, there is an active artificial reef permit for a location off Deerfield Beach. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and United States Army Corp of Engineers are the regulatory agencies in charge of issuing construction permits for artificial reefs.


It is our understanding that the freighter is now in possession of US Customs who is actively pursing the prosecution of the responsible drug traffickers. According to Broward County, transfer of the freighter ownership will only be to a municipality in the county. We believe similar transfers from US Customs to neighboring counties, i.e., Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, have occurred in the past. Apparently, US Customs is targeting transfer of the freighter to a location in Broward County.


The US EPA has published guidance on vessel decommissioning preparing the vessel for use an artificial reef ( This guidance satisfies the mandate of Section 3516 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004, which amends existing law to require that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) jointly develop guidance recommending environmental best management practices (BMP's) to be used in the preparation of vessels for use as artificial reefs.

The BMP guidance identifies materials of concern that may be present aboard vessels, identifies where these materials may be found, and describes their potential adverse impacts if released into the marine environment.

This guidance will be followed by a Florida-licensed contractor, prior to the vessel transported to its final resting place.


The cost to decommission, transport and place Miss Lourdies in her final resting place off Deerfield Beach will be covered by private contributions from members of the surrounding community. Under the present scenario, there is no cost obligation to the City of Deerfield Beach for the above-mentioned services.


US Customs has indicated (according to Broward County) that they are expediting the criminal investigation and transfer of the vessel to a municipality, i.e., Deerfield Beach, to reduce the amount of the time the vessel is tying up dockage space on the Miami River. We interpret this to mean that transfer is to be completed as soon as possible, i.e., by the end of 2008.


Once the artificial reef is created, grants through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission will pursued to monitor fish and marine organism habitat enhancement. We envision a partnership between the City and Cepemar to pursue the available state grants. Other grants may also be available to monitor socio-economic benefits created by the reef.


The Stakeholders of this feasibility study encouraged the Deerfield Beach mayor and city commission to consider the merits of this artificial reef and take the necessary steps to approve the transfer of the vessel over to the City. Upon approval from the city manager or his designee, the Stakeholders will take the measures to obtain the necessary funds to decommission and transport the vessel, work with Broward County to issue the required permit(s), and ensure that the vessel is properly located and oriented in its final resting place off the coast of Deerfield Beach.

The History of the Guardian Angel.

"We had this great idea to place an angel to watch over the new artificial reef and the divers on it", said Pavan. "Over time, it would look great for photography and contrast the beautiful growth on the new wreck here in Deerfield Beach. Our idea was to create an iconic statue similar to the Christ of the Abyss in Key Largo. Our thought was to help gather area divers to accomplish one goal, one project thatwould foster community pride and friendship. The idea of angels for the statuesis not meant to be a symbol of religion but rather of protection andguardianship for the the new reef and divers.

Finding the right size statue was not as easy as we thought. But with a little patience,time seems to always work these things out and in April 13 we found theperfect statues for the project. Special thanks goes to Bernard Molyneux for selling to us and Dan Fasano from Miracle of life provider the financial support and Pavan for find it and materialized the idea.

Photo: Bernard Molyneux (Antiques & Country Pine) Dan Fasono (Miracle of Life Foundation) Arilton Pavan (Dixie Divers)

EL SuntinelEl suntinel 02