Georges Valentine is a pleasure to dive or snorkel because she rests in shallow water, only 100 yards offshore. Visitors can park at the House of Refuge and walk to the entry point, a rocky outcropping l00 yards south.
Learn more about the Georges Valentine shipwreck. Take a tour of the House of Refuge Museum before you dive.
House of Refuge Tours
The wreck of Georges Valentine is situated approximately l00 yards south of the south wall of Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge and 100 yards directly offshore in Stuart, Florida. Coordinates for the wreckage closest to the beach (including the boiler, a 57′ section of deck with 8′ of broken mast, and a 12′ by 12′ section of tile floor), are 27° 11.93 ‘ N and 80° 09.88′ W. A 65′ section of iron hull, 16′ in height, is approximately 80 yards due east of the boiler section at 21° 11.93′ N and 80° 09.83′ W. Also in this area are two broken sections of steel mast, one 10′ in length and the other, on the north side of the hull, 19′ in length.
Extending from the east edge of the hull is a 100′ section of the keel and frames. Directly south of the hull is a large debris field that extends about 80′ to the south and 60′ east and west. Approximately 130′ due south of the largest hull section are hull plates about 12′ wide by 20′ in length at coordinates 27° 11.91′ N and 80° 09.83′ W. What appears to be a crane for loading cargo is located approximately 40′ south of the hull plates at coordinates 27° 11.90′ N and 80° 09.83′ W.
Approximately 495′ south of the House of Refuge is a 19′ section of a steel mast partially buried in the sand on shore. Directly due east of this artifact in the surf zone is a segment of iron framework about 60′ long by 24′ wide, along with another section of a broken steel mast, at coordinates 27° 11.89′ N and 80° 09.87’ W.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION OF THE DIVE SITE
Georges Valentine is partially buried in the sand and is broken into five prominent sections. Sand migrates to and from the site depending on seasonal weather and storms. For example, in August 2003 the sand had migrated away, providing a very clear view of the tile deck and the ability to swim under sections of super structure; by August 2004 the sand migrated closer to the wreckage and obscured many features including the debris field. Depth of water around the hull in August 2003 was approximately 32 feet; in August 2004 depth was only 22 feet.
The wreckage lies in positions consistent with reports written by Captain Rea in 1904. An existing photograph (circa 1905) in the Historical Society of Martin County archives shows a large section of upper deck with a mast on the rocks, and the House of Refuge in the background. This wreckage includes the mast and framework 495′ south of the House of Refuge that can be seen today.
BIOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION OF DIVE SITE
Marine life abounds on the wreck of Georges Valentine, including snook, sheepshead, margate, angelfish, kingfish, shiners, shark, moray eels, stingrays, lobster, stone crab, hermit crab, puffer, trigger, parrotfish, wrasse, snapper, and various species of soft corals. Because of the shallow water and migrating sand, the sea life changes from season to season as dramatically as the wreck itself. If not for the unfortunate circumstances of the wreck, there would not be a safe haven for the variety of sea life found there today.
VISITING THE GEORGES VALENTINE SHIPWRECK DIVE SITE
Georges Valentine is a pleasure to dive or snorkel because she rests in shallow water, only 100 yards offshore. Visitors can park at the House of Refuge and walk to the entry point, a rocky outcropping l00 yards south of the House of Refuge Museum south wall. From the most pronounced portion of the outcropping, swim due east 100 yards to the boiler section. East of the boiler about 60 yards is a large section of hull that stands about 12′ to 16′ off the bottom and is 65’ long. Due south of the hull section is a large debris field leading to additional hull plates and the remains of a crane, probably used for loading cargo.
Sea life abounds and is dependent upon the season. Migration of the sand is dramatic; as much as six feet of sand can move in a single year. This change in conditions is a common occurrence and allows divers to enjoy a new adventure with every visit to the shipwreck.
The shoal where Georges Valentine rests is named after the pirate Don Pedro Gilbert who, according to local legend, hung lanterns on the shore in the area where the House of Refuge stands to lure unsuspecting ships onto the rocks. The rock shoreline is the foundation for the Gilbert’s Shoal (Bar) House of Refuge, and is one of the reasons the building is still standing today.
Georges Valentine Underwater Archaeological Preserve Hutchinson Island, Stuart, Florida pdf by the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources Bureau of Archaeological Research