GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- A local, beloved sailor is dead. John Butler, 69, was reported missing by workers at the Green Cove Springs Marina Thursday. His body washed ashore late Sunday.
Butler, known around the marina as JB, worked as a mechanic there. He'd been there over a decade. Friends say they think he hopped into a dinghy, took it out to his boat, and tried climbing aboard when he fell in. Workers tell Action News they found his jacket on the deck.
There isn't much mourning going on at the Green Cove Springs Marina. That isn't the way JB would want it. Friend Tor Pinney says he was a free spirit, loved the water, and had plenty of stories to tell from his full life at sea.
"This guy had lived a sort of, a rough sailors life before he came here. Sounded like he traveled, did a little bar room brawling and some other pretty interesting adventures," Pinney said.
JB's body washed ashore Sunday, days after he disappeared.
"We all do that. I live on my boat right out here and commute with a dinghy and a lot of other people too and JB had done it longer than most."
Friends say his spirit lives on, much like the captains they've lost before him. He won't be forgotten on the water, though even Pinney got a little choked up saying a final goodbye.
JB's body is currently at the St. Johns County Medical Examiner's office. They're waiting on the findings to determine a cause of death but say foul play isn't suspected.
We're told JB lived at the marina, in his workshop and on his boat. He doesn't have family locally.