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Beach Firefighters Made A Few Waves

Q: We remember seeing a large ship beached off Singer Island in the 1960s. What happened and how long was it there?
- Rodney Dillon, and Barbara Poleo,
Boynton Beach
A: The death of Palm Beach socialite Mollie Wilmot in September 2002 brought back memories of the Mercedes I, a 197-foot, 660-ton Venezuelan vessel that crashed against Wilmot’s sea wall and ran aground during a storm on Nov. 23, 1984. It stayed for 105 days, making itself and Mollie media stars, before it was finally towed off and sunk on March 6, 1985, off Broward County for an artificial reef.
But the Mercedes was a short timer compared with the Amaryllis. The 441-foot freighter – twice the size of the Mercedes – was pushed ashore at 3730 N. Ocean Drive on Singer Island on Sept. 8, 1965, during Hurricane Betsy. At the time, the island’s north end, part of Riviera Beach, was sparsely settled and the giant ship quickly became an attraction. It was used as a
backdrop during filming of the show Treasure Island at the Colonnades Hotel. But it soon became an eyesore, and an environmental and health hazard. Another barge trying to refloat it sank next to it.
Youngsters clamored dangerously on it. It caught fire. The plates banging in the wind tormented the owner of a nearby motel. Finally, on Aug. 22, 1968, it was towed three-fourths of a mile out to sea and sunk in 85 feet of water. Beach cleanup and removal of the barge took another year. The ship is now a
popular artificial reef.

Posted in Eliot Kleinberg July 23, 2003 at 8:29 am.

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