- Associated Press - Saturday, April 22, 2017

GREENWOOD, S.C. (AP) - Marvin “Buck” Griffin Jr. has always been a tinkerer with big ideas.

So it didn’t come as a surprise to his friends or his wife, Jean, when in the summer of 2015 a 40-foot-long, 19,000-pound Chris-Craft yacht ended up in a large warehouse behind his Greenwood home.

The vessel, built in 1949, once belonged to business mogul Malcolm Forbes. Griffin found it on the Internet on sale for $100 in Ithaca, New York.

“I just called a hauling company and told them to bring it down, and that was $3,700. I got less in this than most people got in a bass boat,” said Griffin, who was outfitted in a T-shirt and Army fatigues.

A photograph of the boat, which Forbes called “Wings,” is included in his biography, docked at a slip in Labrador with the Torngat Mountains of Canada behind it.

Griffin plans to have the yacht, now christened “Pearl,” ready for the waters of Lake Greenwood by Independence Day.

He prefers showing the boat rather than talking about it. When a reporter asked him to explain his two-year renovation project, his answers comes back quickly.

“Come on up here and look at the kitchen,” Griffin said, already scaling a small ladder into the hull. “I went out to the Goodwill store and I bought some cabinets, about seven or eight of them, and I didn’t know they were going to fit that good.”

They’re slotted snugly into a frame that Griffin built - one of several small modifications he made. Originally, the boat’s front-facing windows were made of glass and didn’t open. Griffin popped them out with ones on a hinge so the lake air can come in.

Griffin wants to pair “Pearl” with a 34-foot-long Chris-Craft from 1955 he’s also refurbishing, bringing his own Baby Boomer flotilla to the lake.

“I have built boats all my life,” he said.

Forbes’ owned a more well-known yacht: The Highlander. It was built for Forbes, then editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, in 1986. The 161-foot yacht was updated in 2014 and is available for chartered cruises.

But Griffin fell in love with the simple but sleek design of Forbes’ more modest conveyance.

“I just think it’s a pretty boat,” Griffin said. With no plans to install modern technology such GPS navigation, the airy cabin can comfortably seat eight people - but guests should expect to make space for Pearl, the Griffins’ cat who has claimed the namesake yacht for himself.

Griffin, who ran the Greenwood County Airport from 1980 through 1993, has a passion for all things mechanical. He also owns a 1922 Model T that belonged to the infamous Leroy Jenkins - a Greenwood native and televangelist sentenced to 12 years in prison after being convicted of assault and arson in 1979.

Griffin considers the roughly $15,000 he’s put into restoring “Pearl” a bargain, since Forbes paid $37,000 for it back in 1949.

“That’s what I told the tax people when I bought it. ‘It wasn’t but $37,000 when he first bought it. If you appreciate that out, you owe me,’” Griffin joked.

Griffin spent $6,000 on new chrome fixtures but kept the original curtains, which are now a faded blue and white.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun on the lake. I’m gonna put some bow bunnies on it,” Griffin said.

Once it is on the water, Griffin said he wants curious onlookers to climb aboard to take photos.

“We’ll have a voyage to the other end of the lake or a voyage to the bottom of the lake. One of the two,” he said.


Information from: The Index-Journal, https://www.indexjournal.com

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