"66 Days Adrift" by William Butler - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 04-06-2006
Jim H's Avatar
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"66 Days Adrift" by William Butler

I just finished reading the book 66 Days Adrift by William Butler, and it was very impressive. It's a cleanly written and detailed (almost day by day) account of the sinking of a couple's sailboat (by pilot whales, no less) in mid-Pacific, and the following 66 day adrift in a modern (but lightly made coastal) life raft.

Butler does a great job of detailing the challenges, solutions and mistakes they made, and the account is very contemporary (having occured in 1989). The main difference is that they had an early Type B EPIRB that was useless as far offshore as they were. They luckily had a manual water-maker, but only one fish hook.

The book is a page-turner, and it's pretty much impossible to read without seriously considering how oneself would do in similar circumstances. If nothing else, my impression of the importance of a properly sized, provisioned and maintained has increased about 1000% by reading the book, as well as the need for a modern EPIRB.

However, I read a later article by Butler, and he was somewhat critical of current off-shore cruisers and racers, who may cut corners now that the modern EPIRB and search/recovery systems are improved. Given what can happen in an crisis, however, relying too much on that safety net could have relatively terminal consequences.

Link to more info about the book (and some pictures)

http://www.wbutler.com/daysadrift.html


Jim H
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Old 04-07-2006
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You might also be interested in the similarly titled "Adrift," the author of which I cannot presently recall. The author was participating in a single-handed race from the Canaries to the Carribean (I think) when he also collided with a whale or whales and his boat sank. He had a fairly well-provisioned raft and drifted for 77 days before reaching land. The book is in diary form and pretty well-detailed. He survived by working out a spear gun which he used to to spear fish that were attracted by the growth on the bottom of the raft. He was a real McGyver type in terms of repairs and fashioning tools. Photos of his emaciated and bearded self at the conclusion of his journey. It also was a good read. I wouldn't do any bluewater cruising without a good escape plan. No way he would have made it without one.
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