The Butlers Did It

We consider keeping the shell, but it's so heavy, and we know in this heat it will soon stink. How do we dispose of the shell and blood without arousing the shark population? I look into a clear, ripple-free sea for sharks. There are none around. Strange.

We will dump the shell and the blood and then row downwind as fast as we can. I look again for sharks, then ease the shell over the side to windward without a splash. It sinks like a rock. I slowly pour the blood and pieces of turtle from the bucket so as not to splash the raft. I give the bucket a quick wash and signal Sim to start rowing.

We row steadily for fifteen minutes. We are exhausted but content. I look back to make sure no monster of the deep follows our trial. Our undersea world teems with life. All is clear. We put away the oars and drift on. We feel a sense of pride and achievement. We made it. We have taken a major step in our pursuit for survival.

Our stomachs fill for the first time in three weeks. Besides I have bait. We relax after all the excitement to enjoy the beauty of the day. The day is so clear, the sea so calm. It's so great to be alive.

The hot sun bores in on us. It even feels like the Fourth of July. We open the canopy. The sun and breeze will remove the dampness from our covers and clothing. Sim sponges drops of turtle blood from the arches and canopy. With our appetite satiated, we nap.

We awaken to a rare Pacific sunset, a perfect end to a spectacular day. The turtle has nourished not only our bodies but has lifted our spirits. With bait, we can fish. I can hardly wait to begin.

From Our Last Chance by William A. Butler and Simonne S. Butler. Copyright 1992. Reprinted by permission of the authors. Our Last Chance is available for $22.50 in hardcover, $14.50 in paperpack at several area bookstores and marine supply stores. For information call Exmart Press at 667-7121.

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