Frank Patti, Jr. (of the Patti family) has a really awesome shipyard on the northern end of Bayou Chico, in which he does things like making two of the most powerful tugboats in history. So we’re pretty psyched to be collaborating with Patti Marine Enterprises, along with the Emerald Coastkeeper organization, in what is turning out to be one of the most interesting projects we’ve done yet; an artificial reef, decorated by original Kevin Marchetti sculptural stainless steel figures.
The structural framework of the “Joe Patti Memorial Reef” consists of a 175′ barge, donated by Frank Patti, Jr., which will be sunk at a location 41/2 miles southeast of Pensacola Pass in 55 to 60 feet of water – easily accessible even novice recreational divers. The unique aspect about this project will be the structures welded to the deck, which will bring more marine life. The images will encompass area landmarks and personal plaques, telling the story of iconic people, places and history of our beloved Pensacola. Divers will see replicas of the Joe Patti’s sign, the Pensacola Beach Ball and Beach Sign, the Blue Angels in formation, the Five Flags of Pensacola, and other area landmarks like the FloraBama, and they are selling memorial plaques, so you or your idea can also live on in perpetuity (see details below). All structures will be cut from 3/8″ stainless steel and welded double continuous to the deck. The steel module is 175′ long, 80′ wide and 10′ deep with large and small openings cut into the deck to enhance all types of marine life.
Frank Patti, Jr. developed the concept for the aging barge which has been used as a floating work platform for the past 20 years plus. Frank Patti, Sr. acquired the barge after it was used to repair the Pensacola Bay Bridge which had been damaged by the tug and barge accident in 1989. Frank Jr. hauled the barge out of the water twice for repairs, but decided a third time would be meaningless. Instead of scrapping the structure, he decided to do something significant. He wanted to honor the Patti family, who are legendary in the marine and fishing industries, and incorporate other landmarks that are synonymous with the area. Sava Varasso, of the “Coast Keepers”, is spearheading the project and donations from individuals that will help fund restoration projects, such as sea grass and shoreline restoration, and monitoring of impaired bodies of water.
Initially, a basic 2-foot-by-3-foot plaque costs $600 and a custom one costs $1,000.
After the first 40 plaques, the cost will be higher, though how much higher has not been determined.
People and businesses who buy plaques will receive a year Emerald Coastkeeper membership. For details or to order a plaque, call Sava Varazo, Coastkeeper director, at (850) 712-9566.
What other area landmarks or organizations to you think should be represented on the reef?