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Buffett Donates Boat to USM

December 5th, 2011

Jimmy Buffett was in southern Mississippi on Monday morning where he donated a boat to his alma mater: University of Southern Mississippi.

The world famous singer-songwriter was on hand Monday morning at the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs to help dedicate the new boat. The Miss Peetsy B was originally built as a navy boat in 1973 by Uniflite.

The 33-foot vessel will be used to ferry school children through the marshes of South Mississippi and on excursions to Deer Island. USM officials said the boat will also be available to the public for programs like Sea Camp, ecological tours of the Biloxi Bay, and trips to Deer Island.

The boat was donated to the university by Buffett. The man who invented the Margaritaville brand attended USM years ago.

More from the Sun Herald:

“We’re all here because our mother valued education so much. It was sort of a building block in all of our lives,” said Lucy Buffett.

Uniflite originally built the 33-foot navy vessel in 1973. Jimmy Buffett’s longtime friend, Jimbo Meador, found the boat and shepherded the project.

“We’ve been working with them for a little over year to design and get a boat that meets our needs and allows us to do educational programs cost effectively,” said Chris Snyder, Director of the Marine Education Program.

The Buffetts first got involved with the GCRL following 2010’s oil spill.

“At the time, I was angry but I had to put that anger somewhere,” said Jimmy Buffett, who once considered being a marine biologist. After donating a boat to help the university with oil spill cleanup, the Buffetts spoke with USM President Martha Saunders to see how they could help local children understand the value of the Gulf Coast.

“When you ignite the minds of kids and show them the ocean for the first time, it’s a life-changing experience,” Buffett said.

Buffett graduated from USM in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He also helped out the university last year during the Gulf oil spill.

From left, Jimmy Buffett, Lucy Buffett and Laurie Buffett-McGuane christen the boat at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory Monday, Dec. 4, in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. (The Mississippi Press/Harlan Kirgan)

Tagged in Boats, Charitable Causes, Personal/Family