Stuck shrimp boat on Holden Beach finally back in the ocean

.With the help of an excavator and high tide, Big Earl was dislodged from the beach Thursday morning and slowly made its way out into the ocean. (Source: WECT)
.With the help of an excavator and high tide, Big Earl was dislodged from the beach Thursday morning and slowly made its way out into the ocean. (Source: WECT)

HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WECT) - A shrimp boat that called the Holden Beach shoreline home for the past week is free.

With the help of an excavator and high tide, Big Earl was dislodged from the beach Thursday morning and slowly made its way out into the ocean.

"It was a miracle, like a baby giraffe being born, I was like come on Earl, go go go, don't let the lines break," said Sheila King, a vacationer who has been watching the beach boat for a week.

The boat became stuck on the shoreline last Thursday during its first trip out.

"The net got caught in the wheel, and the captain didn't drop anchor in time, he got a little close to the shore, one thing led to another and we ended up on the beach," said Reese Atkinston, owner of Big Earl.

Over the course of the following week, residents, tourists, and visitors all came together to try and help the owner get Big Earl back into the ocean but had little success. One of those tourists that came out was Michael Staley.

"I came out a week ago and was hoping it would still be here so I could snap a few pictures, well by day two and three it was still there so I knew I needed to help get it out," Staley stated.

Staley of Greensboro spearheaded the efforts and rented an excavator to help dig out the vessel.

"I am officially the unofficial reporter for Holden Beach," Staley explained as he spent hours on the beach posting pictures and live video to social media to keep everyone informed.

Staley was out each day with a back brace on sporting a Superman emblem.  A nickname he received after a work incident left him paralyzed, an tragedy that he came out from under.

"This  week I did what I could, by no means am I a hero, just stepped in to see what I could do to help," Staley explained.

Everyone cheered as Big Earl made its way back into the ocean and said it was a miracle when it left.

"I was happy, I spent four extra days on my vacation, I was supposed to go home, but I thought, lets keep going Earl, lets get you free," Staley said. "Then today I guess after a week long vacation, Earl was ready to leave."

"The community down here has helped tremendously these are some of the best people I have ever been around, without the good people in Holden Beach, we would have never gotten the boat out," said Atkinson

The Coast Guard had set a deadline of Friday morning for Big Earl to be removed before they would take steps to remove fluids and any other hazardous materials from the boat, at the owner's expense.

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