By Richard Rourk
A local icon is set to sail again this spring.
Unicoi County Schools UC Advance Coordinator Mark Fleenor recently took The Erwin Record on a tour of his latest project – the Buc Ship II.
The original Buc Ship roamed the Mini Dome during football games at East Tennessee State University. Fleenor, an ETSU grad, felt the need to bring back the ship to the community.
“When complete, this ship will be available for ETSU and Unicoi County sporting events,” Fleenor said. “It will also serve at community events and will visit area schools. I mean can you imagine what a living classroom this will be.”
The centerpiece of the Buc Ship II is a 1960s, aluminum boat. The boat was purchased from Charles Dyer, a 1968 ETSU graduate and U.S. Navy veteran.
“He had planned on restoring the boat, but when he heard what we were doing, he was all in,” Fleenor said. “The ship will be placed on a Chevy 3500 van’s base.”
Fleenor is on the hunt for anything that will enhance the ship.
“This ship’s wheel came from an authentic sailboat yacht from Friendship Marina in Bristol,” Fleenor said. ”Everything that we can get that is authentic is great. The wheel will be outfitted to actually steer the ship. We also have a bell attached to the boat and will look to add more items to the ship. We have a Blue Devil trident that can be mounted to the bow. If anyone has toy cannons, a mast, crows nest, really anything that will make this ship more authentic, we are accepting these items.”
According to Fleenor, the students and staff are excited to get started on the project.
“Our welding, collision repair, business, marketing instructors and all of our builders are excited to get started on this project,” Fleenor said. “The students can’t wait to return to school to get involved with this project. We are providing them with updates every day.”
The Buc Ship II will be named after legendary Buc Jerry Robertson, according to Fleenor. Robertson retired from ETSU in 2003, following a long career as athletic trainer at the university.
Donations of money and/or items for the Jerry Robertson Buc Ship II can be made to:Buc Ship II, Unicoi County High School, 700 S. Mohawk Drive, Erwin, TN 37650.
To follow the ship’s progress, and for the most up-to-date information regarding the ship, follow the Jerry Robertson Buc Ship II on Facebook.