DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The Okaloosa County Coastal Resource team made waves with an artificial reef deployment on Sept. 7 out of the Destin harbor. A 67-foot sailing vessel named CORDONAZO came to rest more than 100 feet below the surface 14 nautical miles off the coast.

The Board of Okaloosa County Commissioners posted a video of the boat leaving Destin Harbor Wednesday morning. “Welcome to the family!” the post read.

The county said artificial reefs such as the CORDONAZO and the MISS NELLIE deployed in Aug. create important habitats for popular game fish and marine wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The artificial reefs provide needed habitat for marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. They also benefit anglers and divers alike.,” the county wrote.

How Destin got the CORDONAZO:

The sailboat deployed on Sept. 7 was originally made out of Germany in 1958. The boat was found abandoned in the Bahamas in the early 90s, according to Okaloosa County.

The most recent owner bought the boat in the late 90s. While work was being done on the vessel in Pensacola in Dec. 2021, a fire broke out causing major damage to the CORDONAZO. The owners then donated the boat to Visit Destin-Fort Walton for an artificial reef project.

Okaloosa County said a friend of the boat owner shared memories of the sailboat in its prime. They said the CORDONAZO sailed around the Caribbean for 20-plus years collecting 20,000 nautical miles.

What’s Next?

Lead tourism agency Visit Destin-Fort Walton has 6 more vessels in various stages to deploy this year. The new addition will bring the total number of vessel reefs off the coast to 40, with many more artificial reef structures out there for anglers, divers and snorkelers to enjoy.

A map of all the reefs and coordinates can be found online.

Stay ahead of the biggest stories, breaking news and weather in Mobile, Pensacola and across the Gulf Coast and Alabama. Download the WKRG News 5 news app and be sure to turn on push alerts.