Famed Gulf Coast native Jimmy Buffett and his sisters, Lucy “Lulu” Buffett and Laurie Buffett-McGuane, christened a 33-foot vessel on Monday that they donated to the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. The vessel, built for the Navy in 1973 to transport personnel and supplies, is eventually going to be converted to run on waste vegetable oil.
“It seemed like a logical extension of a disaster caused by an oil spill to look at alternatives,” Buffett said before he and his sisters splashed Land Shark beer across the bow of the boat named in memory of their mother. The Miss Peetsy B, valued at around $70,000, is to be used for educational program for upper elementary and secondary students in the Marine Education Center. Christopher Snyder, director of the center, said the vessel now runs on diesel fuel, but would be converted to burn the waste vegetable oil. “Lulu offered 1,000 gallons of waste oil from her restaurant,” he said.
Eventually, waste oil from Lucy Buffett’s “Lulu’s” restaurant in Gulf Shores and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in Biloxi will be used to power the vessel, Snyder said. “It is a conversion process that is fairly simple,” Snyder said. “They tell me it smells like French fries.”
Jimmy Buffett said the boat donation idea arose from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There was a misperception that the Gulf of Mexico “was a large pile of sludge,” he said.
From his experience with manatee programs in Florida, Buffett said he realized the importance of educating children “about where they live and what their responsibilities are particularly on the Gulf Coast where the Gulf of Mexico is so important to everybody’s lives whether they realize it or not.”
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