The July 19 sinking of the Capt. David Knight on AR 430 was a long time coming for the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association (LBARA). The Capt. David Knight is a decommissioned water barge that had been renamed to honor Capt. Knight, a popular and well liked Southport fisherman who lost his battle with cancer several years earlier in the prime of his life.
The Capt. David Knight is 85 feet long and 30 feet wide and was donated to Brunswick County by the US Army Corps of Engineers approximately 2 years ago. The Brunswick County commissioners then donated it to the LBARA for placement on one of the nine artificial reefs they initiated and maintain off Brunswick County. LBARA made the decision to christen the barge in honor of Capt. Knight and position it as the centerpiece of an upcoming renourishment project on AR 430, the Jim Knight Reef, which is named for Capt. Knight’s father .
Before it could be sunk on the reef, the Capt. David Knight had to be thoroughly cleaned, inside and out, to remove any potential contaminants and some equipment, primarily a hydraulic system with hoses, a pump and a hydraulic fluid reservoir, had to be removed. It was inspected several times by the NC Division of Marine Fisheries and the US Coast Guard prior to being approved for deployment. Harbor Lines, LLC of Wilmington cleaned the barge and prepared it for sinking, then towed it to AR 430 and positioned it.
A spokesman for the LBARA said they owed a debt of gratitude to the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Brunswick County Commissioners and the US Open King Mackerel Tournament as their support is what made this possible, plus to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries Artificial Reef Program for overseeing the process.
The Jim Knight Reef, AR 430, is located approximately 2.4 miles southwest of Ocean Crest Pier and approximately the same distance off the beach. Artificial reefs are permitted for a one mile area, so the entire reef is located in state waters (0-3 miles offshore). AR 430 is named for Jim Knight, of Southport. Jim Knight, who is Capt. David Knight’s father, was one of the original members of the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association.
The LBARA was founded in 1984 and immediately began assembling material to be used for their first reef project at AR 425 (Yaupon Beach Reef). They now help maintain and renourish nine ocean reefs in Long Bay between Cape Fear, at the southeast tip of Bald Head Island, and the NC/SC state line. Seven of the LBARA reefs are within sight of land and two are more than 30 miles offshore.
The next LBARA renourishment project is the placement of approximately 400 tons of assorted size concrete pipe around the Capt. David Knight on AR 430.