Joes Tug Key West Diving
Located just seven miles southeast of Key West, Joe’s Tug is one of the most popular and well-known novice scuba diving wreck sites in the Lower Keys area. Despite its somewhat misleading name, Joe’s Tug is actually an old 75-foot steel hulled shrimp boat that sank at the pier in Safe Harbor in 1986. It was then brought back on land to be t into an artificial reef, as experts cleaned the shrimper, removed the engine, and added metal braces to make it more stable. Joe’s Tug was first intended to be shipped off to Miami, but local legend has it that a group of pirates commandeered the boat in Key West harbor and it sank during their surreptitious getaway.
Although the boat used to be fully intact, Hurricane George ripped the wheelhouse off during the summer of 1998. In the following year, Joe’s Tug was dealt a heavier blow and Hurricane Irene broke the shipwreck right down the middle. However, its reinforced metal has helped to keep the ship upright and maintain Joe’s Tug as an excellent wreck diving site. It remains standing proudly on the ocean floor in 65 feet of water, surrounded by massive star coral formations and leather barrel sponges. The bow and stern are separated by approximately 30 feet, while the hull and aft deck are fully accessible by divers.
One of the best features that keeps both beginner and advanced divers alike coming back to Joe’s Tug year after year is its abundant marine life. The wreck is home for some enormous moray eels and barracuda, along with inquisitive fish that are often found in schools in the hull. Divers should also be on the lookout for the famous rumored inhabitant of Joe’s Tug, the Jewfish named Elvis. Night diving brings out an even more vibrant marine community. Small crabs and lobsters are often seen walking along the decks of the wreck to find some food for dinner.
While Joe’s Tug may not be overly exhilarating for expert divers, this site is a perfect option for an easy and relaxing dive providing the currents cooperate. With its plentiful marine life and good visibility, it offers great underwater photographic opportunities for unforgettable pictures. Its natural beauty, coral reefs, marine life, and history all combine to make Joe’s Tug one of the most popular wreck sites in the Florida Keys.