Snorkel to the Vero Beach Shipwreck
Swim through history on a guided tour to the S.S. Breconshire, Vero Beach's iconic shipwreck located just off the shore. The S.S. Breconshire sank in April 1894 on what would be an ill-fated sail from New York to Tampa to pick-up unknown cargo. The ship and its crew departed New York on April 25, 1894, and wrecked just five short days later.
This 19th century tragedy makes for a present day delight for snorkeling enthusiasts or those in search of a little Vero Beach history. Paddle among the wreck, the reefs, and the schools of fish and other marine life that now call the wreckage home.
Get to Know the S.S. Breconshire
What kind of ship was the S.S. Breconshire?
An iron screw steamer, built in 1884, the Breconshire was a schooner-rigged ship with compound engines of 350 horsepower complementing her sail power. She was 300 feet in length and 37 feet in breadth. A man by the name of Robert Taylor, who possessed a Master’s Certificate, commanded the ship’s crew of 24 men. Edwin H. Curling was the Second Officer.
During her last voyage, the Breconshire sailed from England to various Mediterranean ports and then on to New York.
How did the ship wreck?
The Breconshire left New York on April 25, 1894. Less than five days later, she was lost.
In the spring of 1894, after docking in New York, she was ordered to proceed to Tampa to pick up an unknown cargo. Commander Robert Taylor, unfamiliar with Florida’s waters, ordered charts of the coast of the state. But the package of charts he received failed to include the Florida coast for about 20 miles south of Cape Canaveral. Taylor didn't know he was missing these maps of the coast until it was too late
The night of April 29 was calm and clear when Taylor set his course and ordered, “I am to be called at 1 a.m.” He then went below. At midnight, Second Officer Edwin H. Curling took charge. He instructed his early morning crew to keep a sharp lookout for land on the starboard. Land was seen as a “dark streak” on the water, but each man on lookout attributed it to a morning breeze until it indeed developed into land.
At 1:45 a.m., Curling sighted land on the starboard beam and estimated that the distance was four to five miles. Unaware of the danger that lurked below the ocean's surface, he continued his course.
A few minutes later, the Breconshire hit a reef and sunk to the bottom where it still rests.
Where in Vero Beach is the shipwreck located?
The S.S. Breconshire hit a reef located a quarter mile off the coast of Vero Beach, right in front of Costa d'Este. The wreck remains there to this day. At low tide a watchful eye can still see the bow of the ship peeking out from below the surf.
What can I expect on my snorkel to the shipwreck?
Nearly 130 years after it sunk, the S.S. Breconshire has bloomed into an ecosystem of its own. Barnacles, algae, and other marine flora and fauna have covered the ship, bringing with them critters like snails, crabs, and more. As you snorkel above and around the wreckage, don't be surprised if you encounter larger marine life like rays, jellyfish, snappers, and other vibrant schools of fish.
Snorkeling Tours at Costa
Explore the S.S. Breconshire on a Guided Snorkel Tour
Join us for a journey through history on a guided tour to the Breconshire. Learn about the ship, its journey, and its final resting place.
Our 60-mintute tour includes:
- A seat in a kayak out to the wreck
- A mask
- A snorkel.
Tours are available based on weather and water conditions. Book your tour by stopping by Costa d'Este's Beach Services or the Front Desk.