The Regina is Florida’s 10th Shipwreck Underwater Archaeological Preserve. The SS Regina built in 1904 in Ireland, sank during a nasty storm in 1940 in about 20 feet of water just off Bradenton Beach, Anna Maria Island. The 247 foot long steel steamer was carrying over 350,000 gallons of molasses between Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico to US ports along the Gulf of Mexico and East Coast shorelines. The molasses was primarily used for making rum and other items. The Regina was en route to New Orleans which is a principal port of the world’s molasses trade. The vessel, which had been converted to a tanker barge, was being towed by the tugboat Minima when it encountered a cold front, freezing temperatures, with strong winds and 8 to 12 foot waves. As they attempted to seek shelter in Tampa Bay the towing cable broke and they helplessly drifted toward Anna Maria Island running aground on a sandbar. Only 200 yards from shore the crew stayed aboard, afraid that abandoning the ship would drag them under the turbulent waters. Nighttime approached and the Regina’s hull cracked and broke apart. Anna Maria Island residents built fires along the shore to let the crew know they had been seen, unfortunately their wait was not over. The Coast Guard was unable to reach the stranded vessel and several attempts at shooting a line from the beach to the barge by the Bradenton Beach Police proved unsuccessful. The only non-survivor of the crew of 8 was the ship’s cook and his dog. The cook jumped overboard followed by his German Shepherd and disappeared minutes later beneath the waves. The remaining crew were rescued, but the barge and its cargo were lost.
Seeking shelter from storm
A cold front swept across the Gulf of Mexico, bringing with it strong winds, 8- to 12-foot waves, and freezing temperatures. Those aboard Minima planned to seek shelter from the storm in Tampa Bay, but before they could reach safety, the towing cable attaching the tug to Regina was torn apart in the storm.
Regina and the eight crew members on board began to drift helplessly toward Anna Maria, before running aground on a sandbar.
The vessel was seen by a local resident, who reported the situation to the St. Petersburg Coast Guard Air Station. Help would soon arrive, but would it be soon enough?
As nighttime approached, Regina’s hull began to crack and break apart. The crew stayed on board. Although they were just 200 yards from shore, they feared abandoning the ship would mean getting dragged under the turbulent waters. Instead, they sought shelter in the cramped crew’s quarters at the front of the vessel, despite flooding that reached almost up to their shoulders.
Along the shore, residents built fires to reassure the stranded crew they had been spotted. Unfortunately, their wait was not yet over. USCGC Nemesis and patrol boat CG145, both dispatched from St. Petersburg, were unable to reach the stranded vessel at night in such shallow waters.
Several attempts were then made to shoot a line from the beach to the barge, but each effort fell just short of the stranded vessel. A Coast Guard plane dropped life preserves down to Regina’s crew. All but one were returned to shore by the wind and waves.
One didn’t make it
A man, later identified as the ship’s cook, chose to risk the perilous swim to shore. Onlookers watched in horror as he jumped overboard into the stormy sea, followed just moments later by his German shepherd, only to disappear beneath the waves.
Fortunately, the remaining crew members were eventually rescued, although the barge and all of its cargo were lost. Over the years, the wreck has become a popular destination for scuba divers and snorkelers because of its close proximity to shore.
In fact, Regina is now one of 11 Underwater Archaeological Preserves recognized in the state of Florida. Each site contains interesting archaeological features, and plays host to an abundance of marine life. For more information on these sites and how to find them, visit museumsinthesea.com, and please remember to always use safe diving practices.
This wreck is located across the street from the Sea Kat Dive Shop where you can get information about snorkeling / diving. If you’re are looking to dive the Regina wreck or for any Island dives we suggest calling Sea Kat Divers. They can assist you with any scuba diving/snorkelling inquiries. Sea Kat Divers is conveniently located at 105 7th Street North, Bradenton Beach, FL. 941-779-0100. It is a only a couple minute walk from the condo, therefore, parking is not an issue.
Sea Kat Divers is a locally owned licensed dive shop run and operated by PADI Dive Instructor Jim who has years of experience and local knowledge. Your one stop shop on Anna Maria Island offers friendly, family oriented, full service. This dive shop is ready to meet any of your scuba or snorkelling needs, rentals , gear, service, tank fills, and private chartered trips for both scuba and snorkel. They offer personalized daily snorkel trips for $60.00 per person (3 person minimum) to Egmont Key and a two tank scuba dive trip starting at $90.00 per person (3 person minimum) to multiple reefs, wrecks and local dive spots. Each snorkel and dive trip departs around 9:00 a.m. (weather permitting) from the Kingfish boat ramp on Manatee Avenue. To participate on any of Sea Kat Divers trips you must call or stop by the shop to book! All trips are customized to the individual customers wants and generally last around 4 hours. No need to worry if you didn’t bring your equipment, Sea Kay Divers offer offer rentals and sales on everything you might need. If you’re looking for something specific ask Jim and he will try his best to customize your trip.
Reviews Tripadvisor …
1. We dove with Captain Jim on Thursday, November 2nd at a wreck. The visibility wasn’t that great because the gulf was stirred up, but a day on the water can’t be beat. They called us the day before our scheduled dive on Tuesdaybecause the visibility was so bad and kept in touch with us to reschedule. Lesley in the shop is wonderful. Captain Jim did a great job. We will dive with them when we travel to the Bradenton area again.
2. I did my PADI Certification with Jim over Labor Day weekend. Jim did a great job of getting us up to speed quickly! The visibility was a challenge because of all the storms over the past few weeks but Jim found a way to make it work and took us out to the Regina Ship Wreck only about 75 yards off shore right across the street from his Shop. We had a great time and saw a lot of neat stuff. Jim was patient and a great job showing us the ropes. By the last dive everything felt completely natural!
3. What a fun family charter. Saw four Goliath Groupers, a large school of snook, and tons of assorted reef fish. Very helpful and professional. All gear was on the boat ready. At the end of the dive just grab your stuff and walk away. Jim and Joe took care of everything. I also can’t forget Keith at the store. Always helpful always happy and always available for information or to kid around with. Overall a wonderful group of people.