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Forum Index: .: Dock Talk:
EIGHT BELLS - Captain Amos. W. Billings
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Mar 2, 2011, 5:27 PM

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Captain Amos W. “Wild Bill” Billings, crossed the bar to meet his pilot on February 27, 2011 at the age of 86, at his home in Fort Lauderdale. Capt. Bill grew up in the family schooner business out of Deer Isle, Maine. As a boy he drove draft horses through the snowy woods, dragging logs down to the shore. Hand loading pulp wood aboard the family’s schooner, The Mercantile, built his arms into mighty tree trunks. Sailing commercial schooners prepared him for running small boats during WWII, and later skippering both sail and motor yachts of all sizes and types. From the fast sleek “commuters,” delivering millionaire executives from their Long Island estates to their Manhattan offices to large offshore sailing vessels, cruising between New England and the West Indies, Captain Billings was the consummate old school yacht captain.

Many a wealthy yacht club blue blood boat owner had their comeuppance delivered by “the ol’ Master,” as he sometimes referred to himself, when they attempted to intimidate him with their self-esteemed lofty positions. Standing on the aft deck of a 77 foot ketch, I watched Capt. Bill steer the boat into an anchorage in the Caribbean using the mizzen sheet while the owner thought he was hand steering the boat from the helm in the cockpit. When I signed aboard as mate, he informed me: “I’m the laziest son-of-a-bitch you’ll ever meet…so if there’s an easy way of doin’ somethin’ on this boat …” thumping his thumb to his chest, “I know it ! … So when I tell ya ta do somethin’, do it the way I tell ya ta do it,” spouted Captain Billings, in his thick schooner-bred down east parlance.

He sure was right and he’ll be missed.

Capt. Ron Schaper


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