Water-Related News

Beached barge was parked offshore for beach erosion project

A 40-ton barge washed up on St. Pete Beach after early morning storms Monday

The Taylor family from Newcastle, England, rushed to the water after checking in at the Postcard Inn on St. Pete Beach Monday afternoon.

A sign on the front desk had warned them about the rusty orange cargo carrier that was sitting on the beach right in front of the hotel. Tony Taylor, his wife and their son saw it immediately.

How could have they possibly missed it? It’s 200 feet long, 40 feet wide and 8 feet tall.

"It’s weird," 11-year-old Drew Taylor said, wrinkling his nose and pointing at the massive barge.

"It’s unfortunate," said 49-year-old Tony Taylor, looking down at his son. "But not too much. We can just walk a little further and enjoy the beach there."

The steel-plate carrier that weighs about 40 tons washed ashore sometime early Monday after a storm churned up waves of five to seven feet. The force of the waves broke ropes holding two barges together offshore. One of them floated toward the beach, grounding in the shallow surf and creating opportunities for a different kind of postcard.

Seven barges float off St. Pete Beach currently, and they’re mainly full of rocks. They belong to Luhr Bros, Inc., an Illinois-based company that the state of Florida contracted to stop beach erosion, said Tony Miller, a barge hand and security guard.

The Luhr Bros. project employs a crew of nine men, including crane operators, boat pilots and engineers. The workers have been arriving at the beach at about 5:30 a.m. every day since May to get the machinery running.

When the sun rises at about 6:30 a.m., they begin lifting rocks of different sizes and shapes, and positioning them to create a barrier. Their goal is to trap sand and keep it from washing away.