ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WKRG) — Eagle Scout Garrett Ard found a way to honor his late grandfather, charter boat captain Gloyice Ard, by sinking a boat into The Gulf of Mexico.
In an article by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), Garrett sank an old shrimp boat used by the late Paul Rogers to serve as an artificial reef.
“Growing up on the coast, building a reef made sense. We didn’t have to do a project that big for my Eagle Scout project, but we decided to go big or go home.”Garrett Ard
Garrett raised $25,000 for the project including donations from the Alabama Reef Foundation and the Orange Beach City Council.
With help from David Walter, Reefmaker of Walter Marine, Garrett and his project crew landed on the idea about an old shrimp boat that would make a quality reef.
“I asked him how much he wanted for it. He said $30,000. I told him we had $25,000, and he said, ‘I’ll take it.’”Tom, Garrett’s Dad
Garrett and several Boy Scouts cleaned out foam insulation from the bowels of the boat.
The 50-foot, steel-hulled shrimp boat was dropped about 14 miles into the Gulf. ADCNR says the superstructure had already been removed from the boat, and a large steel cylinder was welded onto the hull for improved fish habitat.
“It was a huge sense of relief – like, ‘Wow, we actually did it.’ We had been working on this for so long. When Dad and I started talking about raising $25,000 to build a reef, it almost seemed unattainable. Then it happened, and it was like, ‘We just did that.’ It was a huge sense of accomplishment.”Garrett Ard
The daughter of the late shrimp boat owner found out about the project and reached out to the Ards.
The message from Amber Rogers Joyner read:
“The Southern Heritage was my daddy’s boat, his pride and joy. He loved that boat, and he loved being on the water. Not sure if you know the story along with the boat, but he passed last January. He’d be so happy to know what you’ve done – the Southern Heritage staying in the water and being a place people will be able to enjoy for years to come. Thank you, Garrett! It’s a place I will definitely be taking my children to enjoy.”
Garrett says he is headed to Mississippi State University this fall to study aerospace engineering and play trombone in several of the school’s bands.
Garrett says he will be back home for a trip on his dad’s boat next year to see how many big red snapper are hanging around the Capt. Gloyice Ard Memorial Reef.