The Catherine was a three-masted ship built in Canada in 1869 and restored in 1870 under the name Eliza. She was nearly 200 feet long and over 30 feet in beam. The ship was originally named Eliza and quickly sold to the British as a merchant ship using the name Carnarvonshire for about 20 years. She was sold to a Norwegian firm in 1890 and continued as a merchant vessel, but under the new name of Cathrine.
In August of 1894, the Catherine ran aground offshore of Santa Rosa Island. Her crew of 17 was safely rescued but the boat was too damaged to ever sail again. Some fittings and riggings were removed by salvors before the surf finally pulled the vessel underwater. She now rests in about 15 feet of water, 1000 feet out from the old coast guard station. A 30-foot section of bronze-plated hull is usually visible as it protrudes about five feet out of the sand. The amount of debris visible nearby changes as storms and tides move the sand.
Diving the Catherine
Although some strong swimmers may be able to reach this dive spot swimming from shore, it is recommended to take a boat to the site. The tidal currents and surge are strong in this area and boat traffic is often heavy. The Wreck lies outside the surf line, but in approximately 15 feet of water.
Important Reef Info
- Florida law requires use of Divers-Down Flag for diving or snorkeling and divers must make a reasonable effort to stay within 100′ of dive flag.
- No lifeguards on duty. Be aware of boat traffic, hazardous marine life, and potentially dangerous wave action and currents.
- Alway dive with a buddy, NEVER ALONE!
- Personal floatation device or buoyancy aid strongly recommended for snorkelers.
- Snorkelers and Divers should adhere to beach warning flags.
- GREEN FLAG – Low hazard/Generally calm conditions.
- YELLOW FLAG – Medium hazard/Moderate surf and/or currents
- RED FLAG – High hazard/High Surf and/or strong currents
- PURPLE FLAG – Hazardous Marine Life (generally jellyfish in late summer months)
Getting to the Catherine
The Catherine is a beach dive, but also a in-shore dive and is located about 100 feet from the old coast guard tower in Fort Pickens in about 15′ of water. You can use the GPS Location of 30 18.710’N and 87 15.940’W to navigate towards the wreck.
Marine life seen around the Catherine
When diving the Catherine you will see a lot of different marine life, some of them are:
- Coming soon
There are many other types of marine life that are around the Catherine, if you want to identify the species you can look at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Saltwater identification page.