Large barge removed from Longboat Key

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Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 4:31 pm

LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. -- Visitors on Longboat Key were treated to a little excitement on Wednesday.

"We came down to have a nice quiet morning out here and look what you guys did to us tourist bringing a beautiful entertaining morning," said Ed Mizinski from Michigan.

A small crowd gathered as work was underway to remove a barge that ran aground early Wednesday morning.

"For the sleepy town of Longboat Key, this is big excitement," said Greg Sobie from New Hampshire.

The barge was one of two barges being moved offshore for the Johnson Bros. bridge building company.

"About two o'clock am Tuesday, tugboat operator contacted the Coast Guard watch commander in Saint Petersburg alerting them that he is losing control of one barge and securing another barge," said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Michael DeNyse.

High winds caused the tugboat captain to loose the 180-foot barge that collided with a jetty on Cortez beach on Tuesday. The crew had anchored the 140-foot long barge offshore to wait for calmer seas.

"About two o'clock this morning, Wednesday, the seas were too rough, it was anchored out but it was too rough to hold its position and it ran aground right here," said DeNyse.

To remove the barge Johnson Bros. workers had to first get on board the barge.

"And they came out wearing jeans and they started walking in the water with big ladder over their heads," said Genevieve Brown.

"And climbed up the ladder to get aboard," said Wayne Boone.

They then used a jet ski to stretch a rope from the tug to the barge.

"It has been a process to say the least but it has been exciting and we are trying to figure out how they are going to do it," said Sobie 

Using the first rope, the crew was able to attach a thick towline and while the on-lookers watch from shore, the tugboat successfully pulled the barge into deeper waters.

Once the barge was gone, it was quickly back to the normal activities of beach life on Longboat Key, but the visitors were left with a great story to share.

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