Author visit: Bill Butler

Posted on July 20, 2013 by


Douglas Library — Monday, July 22 — 6 pm.

Does anybody remember those Choose  Your Own Adventure books?  For the uninitiated, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: as you read you’re presented with various choices which branch off into a myriad of storylines and possibilities.  Let’s play a short round. You know you want to.

Your name is Bill (William) Butler.  You live with your wife Simone in Miami, running two different businesses.  When the economic condition changes you decide to shut down your businesses and retire.  Do you:

a) stay in Miami, idly playing golf and trying to train your cat to win in a drag race  OR   b) decide to spend four years circumnavigating the globe in your 39 foot sailboat with your wife?

You choose ‘b’ of course. Everybody knows you can’t train cats to do anything.

You leave from Miami on April 21st, 1989 and spend a month traveling south through the Bahamas, the Caribbean and finally through the Panama canal.  You cross to the Pacific Ocean and start heading to Japan.  You are plagued with weeks of strong storms, are 1200 miles out to sea, and are over 90 miles north of your intended sailing course.  That sailing race in Hiroshima you’ve always wanted to do starts in a couple of days, but you haven’t even made it to Hawaii yet.  It is the night of June 14th, and you spend it on your deck, watching the dolphins play around your boat.

Only they’re not dolphins.  They’re pilot whales.  The pod tightens up against the ship, swimming closer and closer. They knock against the boat on the starboard side.  Then two hard blows to the port.  Again and again until water starts gushing through the floorboards.  You start the bilge pump and grab a bucket to start bailing by hand.  The water is coming up faster and faster, it’s reached the engine.  It’s only been about 5 minutes.  The whales are still circling.

Do you: a) evacuate your lifeboat  OR  b) try to repair the ship?

Bill Butler is the author of “66 Days Adrift: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Open Sea.”  He will be talking about his adventures and misadventures sailing on the open ocean at the Douglas Library on Monday, July 22nd at 6pm.  Books will be available for sale afterwards.  And spoiler alert: he chose option ‘a’.