Barge breaks loose during storm, runs ashore on St. Pete Beach

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People flock to Bay Area beaches from all around the world to enjoy the sun, sand and salt water.

But this week there's something else drawing tourists and locals to the shoreline - a massive barge that washed ashore at St. Pete Beach.

While the vessel may have arrived by accident, it's become quite a spectacle and photo backdrop for beach visitors.

"We walked up and I was like, 'Megan, what’s this?'" said Cailey Walsh.

"I looked out the window and I’m like, 'Stryker, there’s the barge, let's go!'" Jodi Hovden said she told her grandson. "And everybody was down here. Everybody."

Monday morning, this unexpected guest barged right onto the shore and quickly became the center of attention.

"That barge right there is the best barge I’ve seen in my whole entire life," exclaimed younger Stryker Andrus.

"Snapping a whole bunch of pictures for Instagram, of course," said Frank Dolsak. "Trying to wait for the right moment when the water splashes up."

The massive vessel, owned by Illinois-based Luhr Bros., is being used as part of a beach renourishment project. When the powerful storm blew through Monday morning, bringing strong winds and high surf, the barge broke free from another barge, eventually running aground at the Postcard Inn.

"It makes it feel a little more like, beachy, historic, right?" laughed Megan Simpson. "Like we are somewhere other than home."

The flat-bottomed boat is now securely roped to a bulldozer on the beach. Meanwhile, Luhr Bros. employees and Pinellas County deputies are keeping an eye on it, making sure curious visitors don't venture too close.

"People were talking about how they were saying it was an eyesore," said Dolsak. "But, you know, it’s kind of awesome to see something different for a change on the beach so I wanted to come out here and take pictures right away."

The barge's beach voyage may have been accidental, but not everyone minds the view.

"It’s awesome. Especially, when the sun sets behind it," Hovden said. "Only in Florida. Only in Florida."

The big barge's beach vacation is coming to an end. An employee with Luhr Bros. said they're hoping to pull it back out into the gulf Wednesday.