King of Middle Keys Diving

A person standing next to a body of water - August Busch IV
Busch IV emerges with a Black Grouper

Savor the spirit of Adolphus Busch Sr.

This past week, 17 Lionfish were spotted on the Adolphus Busch Sr. wreck off Big Pine.

“My goal is to get as many of the Lionfish that I can,” said Adolphus Busch IV, whose support led to the sinking of the ship in 1998.

“We couldn’t blow it up like they did the Vandenberg,” Busch the Fourth explained. “The ship is in the National Marine Sanctuary so sledge hammers had to be used to knock the casings out of the plugs.”

Inspired by his brother Peter, a Vero Beach resident who sponsored the sinking of a ship off the east coast of Florida, Busch named this artificial reef in honor of his great-grandfather.

“I just meant to give back to the Keys for all the great times I’ve had down there,” he said. “When I started the project back in 1996 I wasn’t even an avid diver. I dove four or five times a year.”

He now logs approximately 200 dives per winter.

In 1996, he spotted a roadside sign that read, “We want to add an artificial reef.”

The message lured Busch into Looe Key Dive Resort just like a speared Hogfish lures a Jewfish.

Busch reminisced, “I said, ‘How are you coming with your donations?  He (Joe Glenn) said, ‘We’re not having much luck. Not much response.’”

The 250’ 1951 London motor vessel was docked in Haiti where it had sailed in 1987. She unintentionally sunk off Port au Prince.

Before she was bought–  with beer money!

Most of the costs went toward a hardcore detox. Environmental clean-up removed lead-based paint, fuel, fluids and electronic waste.

“Buying her was easy,” said Busch. “Then we had to haul her all the way back to Miami and from there cleaned her up and cut holes.”

A process we can all raise our glasses to.

Today, the Adolphus Busch mirrors the Thunderbolt. Since 1998 the structure is teaming with marine life including two resident Jewfish the size of Volkswagens and a resident octopus.

“This ship is worth logging in anyone’s dive book. I’ve done 200 dives on her and absolutely love this wreck,” said Looe Key dive instructor Renee Inman.

During the winter, the majority Looe Key’s clientele hail from Germany – like Busch. In the summer mainland Florida residents become the majority and every other day she’s fielding a phone call from a SCUBA card toting tourist who has discovered Monroe County’s Wreck Trek book.

Inman’s routine dive plan is for advanced divers. Open water divers can hire a guide and go exploring. The current where the Busch rests four miles of the coast of MM 24 can change at any given moment.

She details, “The game plan is to drop in at the stern that’s where the wheel house is. There’s a cut-a-way to show them our resident Goliath Groupers. Then, we swim along the portside and I’ll head around the wheel house where you can then drop down into the cargo area. That’s where the octopus live! Then, I’ll go up close to the bow, (there’s not a lot to see up there) come back, and finish on starboard side and work our way back to the mooring ball. There’s a lot of character to her.”

Plus, the plaque dedicated to Busch Sr., King of Beers. Scrolled across the plaque located in the center of the cargo hold at 100’ between two portholes are words which exemplify the spirit of Busch Senior.

[pullquote]Adolphus Busch was an heir to nothing, nothing but character, initiative, and a kindly feeling for his fellow man.[/pullquote]

The inscription came from the book Making Friends is Our Business, produced by the Anheuser Busch Company by authors Roland Krebs and family descendent Percy J. Orthwein. The book was published in 1953 to commemorate a century of American business and brewing. The 451 page book is described as “an attempt,” to publish the company’s in-depth history.

“When we sunk this ship we discussed how she would embody the spirit of my great-grandfather and the spirit of America,” said Busch. “It comes when I come around a corner and come face-to-face with a 400 pound Jewfish!”

An Adolphus Busch Sr. Lionfish Round-Up may happen with Busch IV before September ends. Criteria to be chosen: you must be part of a company who chooses to remember Making Friends is Our Business.

Adolphus Busch Sr.

Bottom Time: Nitrox, 30 minutes

Bottom Time: Air, 18 minutes

Sea Life: Two, Resident Jewfish (the size of Volkswagens) Snook, Tarpon and an Octopus

Busch IV emerges with a Black Grouper