Coast Guard gives shrimp boat captain until Friday to remove beached boat

Drone shot of Big Earl shrimp boat beached in Holden Beach on May 15, 2018. (Photo: Mark Moore)

HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The shrimp boat captain who has been working to dislodge his boat, Big Earl, from Holden Beach has until Friday morning to remove it before the U.S. Coast Guard steps in.

If not removed by 9:00 a.m., the USCG will use an oil spill removal organization to remove all the fuel and oil products from the boat.

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Chief Jeremy Thomas with the USCG said they are authorized to remove the threat to the environment and public, but are not authorized to salvage the boat.

“It’s not something we take lightly. It’s the man’s livelihood,” Thomas said.

Many people have asked why the Coast Guard can’t help remove the boat from shore.

“We’d only hook up to a vessel to move it, only if it’s in a navigable channel,” Thomas said, explaining that they’re bound by law.

The shrimp boat became struck on Holden Beach on Thursday.

Captain Virgil Coleman said the problem began when his net got caught in the propeller.

“Lost the steering. Lost the power in the boat,” Coleman said. “I got the net out and by the time I got the net out and all the boat still wouldn’t go ahead forward left, right. And we just were stuck.”

Since then, the community has been rallying around the shrimp boat captain. They have donated funds to hire machinery to help dig trenches around the boat, other boaters have come to help, and on Tuesday a strap attached to Big Earl broke when one of the boats was pulling it out into the ocean.

Coleman said a blower on the engine caught fire, which forced them to call it quits on Tuesday night.

Coleman was spending Wednesday trying to straighten out the motor issue. They plan to dig all night and hopefully go out on the morning’s high tide.