The Delray Wreck


In September 1903, a steamship called the S.S. Inchulva was caught in a hurricane off of Delray Beach, Florida and sunk just yards from the beach. Nine men died in the ordeal and they were buried by the local town's people along a dune. A marker stands at that site today in their memory. Just below the surface about 150 yards out are remains of wreckage that have endured over 100 years of decay and has become a popular dive site.                                              

 

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When my wife and I started to scuba dive we dove this wreck many times-- a fascinating site, always teeming with life. It was easy to get to as long as someone pointed you in the right direction. It was just as easy to get lost if you swam in the wrong direction. When we were in the Divemaster program we decided to map the wreck as our navigation project. This had never been done before because of the scope of the job and we loved challenges.

This illustration depicts the Inchulva as it was loading cargo. The ghost image in the clouds is an image of the ships captain.

We are a rare couple because we work well together plus the fact we were under water and arguing was pointless unless you could read bubbles. All kidding aside, the assignment went smoothly, taking about three hours of diving-- working a section at a time. We used a compass for bearings and a reel of line knotted at specific increments for distances. All notes were marked on underwater slates. We checked and rechecked to make it as accurate as possible.

 As with most everything I do, I went overboard with the project, creating 3D illustrations of all the sections and details. This is what I do and I know people would understand the map with this added info. I was right and the final product was a hit, being used by local dive shops to be given to other divers. Before the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking, I was contacted by the Delray Beach Historical Society. They wanted to use the map for the commemoration. I ended up volunteering to design a display for them, creating additional artwork including the illustration of the ship as it encountered the hurricane. The map was included in a book written by a local writer, Linda Reeves called "S.S.Inchulva, a Florida shipwreck rediscovered" published by the Xlibris Corp.

This is a map showing the course of the Inchulva and where it encountered the hurricane and sunk.

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