Miss Louise: an underwater attraction

The Miss Louise

From the Destin Log

A trail of a different kind will soon be passing through Destin.

The Panhandle Shipwreck Trail, which stretches from Port St. Joe to Pensacola, will feature 12 shipwrecks for divers to explore.

The Miss Louise, a 95-foot tugboat just off Destin, will be one of the dozen stops along the trail.

“We do a lot of our training there,” said Capt. Nancy Birchett, co-owner of Scuba Tech in Destin.

“It’s the shallowest dive in Destin,” which makes it a good training ground, she said.

The Miss Louise was sunk in 1997 as part of the artificial reef program. The tugboat lies at 57 feet with a 15-foot profile.

Birchett was out near the site the day the Miss Louise was sank.

“They started pulling the plugs on it and it didn’t want to go down,” she said.

Birchett started doing circles in her boat around the tugboat. “I threw up enough wake on it to sink it.

Birchett was one of the first to dive the Miss Louise.

“I dove it as soon as it went down and saw a mola mola,” she said. In the early days after it went down, Birchett also saw a whale shark hanging around on the tugboat.

“It’s right there on the beach … it’s a nice spot to dive.”

Scuba Tech diving instructor Mary Ann Epp, who just dove the Miss Louise Thursday, said it is a gathering spot for schools of fish.

“It’s like swimming in a fish bowl with all the fish around you,” Epp said.

On Thursday, divers even saw a 3-inch seahorse.

Other fish that have been spotted around the Miss Louise include spadefish, mackerel and tropical fish. Goliath grouper have also been known to hangout around the tugboat.

In fact, there are reports of a 200-pound goliath haunting the Miss Louise.