Buffett Helping Boat Builder in Oil Spill Relief Effort

posted May 29th, 2010 at 9:46 am

by Josh Martin

A native of the Gulf Coast region, Jimmy Buffett is helping a Vero Beach, Florida boat builder in the oil spill relief effort: “Vero Beach boatbuilder, Jimmy Buffett team up to help recover oiled wildlife in Gulf”

The images of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are serving as a call to action for men and women who have built their lives on the water like Vero Beach boatbuilders Mark Castlow and Jimbo Meador, and Meador’s longtime friend, musician Jimmy Buffett.

Days after people began to learn about the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, Castlow e-mailed Meador and Buffett who were in the Bahamas fishing for bonefish. Castlow’s message was simple: “We have to do something.”

Early next week, Dragonfly Boatworks, a small custom boatbuilding company, expects to ship a vessel designed specifically to aid in the recovery of oil-covered wildlife along the marshes of the Gulf Coast.

Named “S.W.A.T.” for Shallow Water Attention Terminal, the Dragonfly crew took the 17-foot skiff from Castlow’s original sketches to the finished product in just 28 days.

The boat is one of four Dragonfly will build and send to university researchers in the Gulf, Meador said.

“We’re trying to get a boat out there as quickly as possible,” said Meador, a lifelong waterman born and raised on Alabama’s Gulf coast. “We’re building it for them to use on oiled birds and wildlife, but we hope they don’t need it.”

The first SWAT is headed to the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory operated by the University of Southern Mississippi. The scientists there were chosen to receive the first one in part because it is Buffett’s alma mater.

The singer, songwriter, restaurateur and author is underwriting the construction costs of the four boats estimated at about $35,000 apiece. Dragonfly Boatworks also is donating much of the expense, and the company is in the process of trying to partner with an outboard engine manufacturer to help with the cause.

Taking feedback and suggestions from Buffett as well as from scientists involved in the recovery effort, Castlow and Meador incorporated many unique features to help on the water. The boat is expected to have a draft of 8 to 12 inches when loaded. A worktable sits in the middle of the deck and is coated with a sanitary gel coat and coarse surface to help keep oil-covered birds from slipping on the surface and adding to their stress.

“This whole disaster really got our ire up,” Castlow said of Buffett, Meador and himself. “We’ve made our livings from the ocean our whole lives. We’re just trying to get a tool into the hands of the people who have dedicated their lives to working with marine life.”

WPTV also has an article on Buffett and Dragonfly.

Tagged in Charitable Causes, Personal/Family

  • DO

    Jimmy…you da man!

  • Jason Fandrich

    Just want to say… Simply amazing and inspiring!!!

  • Ron C. Dunn

    STOP STOP STOP BUILDING NEW BOATS. OYSTER MEN AND SCHRIMPERS ALL READY HAVE THE BOATS AND THE KNOLLAGE TO RUN EM. There are more than enough boats to handle oil spill. They know how boat runs and how drive it.
    How do I know I just got back to Seattle taking truck to son working on oil spill. I saw it first hand. Hundreds of boats sitting idle due to fishing shut down. Get smart hire locals.

  • http://Joiln51@aol.com Ron C. Dunn

    STOP STOP STOP BUILDING MORE BOATS. MORE THAN ENOUGH BOATS AVAILALBE ON GULF COAST. What do you think happens to out of work oystermen a
    nd scrimpers.

  • J. W. Bailey

    These boats are designed to aid in the research and rescue efforts in the shallow waters inshore. The shrimp and oyster boats cannot help in that effort. The designers from Drangonfly boats and scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi worked on a very specific type boat that is being custom made. Thanks to all involved.


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