Recently, I asked readers of Soundings to share their memories of a person who introduced them to boating. I received a number of thoughtful responses, including one from John Simpson of Solomons, Maryland, who says his father, John Sr., had a big impact on his interest in the sport.
John Sr.’s passion for the water was nurtured when he was a young man working as a purser in the Merchant Marine. “Then he met my mother, Lorraine, and they decided to settle down and go to work building a business,” says Simpson. “For fun on weekends he’d take us out on the Potomac River aboard a 16-foot Whirlwind with a 35-hp Johnson. That was the first of many boats they owned. Their boats were all named Honeypot, the last one being Honeypot V. My parents spent years cruising up and down the East Coast.”
Over the decades, John Sr. passed his love of boating onto his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. “What a great gift to share with your family,” says Simpson of his 97-year-old dad. “I have many fond memories exploring waterways with my family.” Today, Simpson runs his own Back Cove and Edgewater.
Simpson so enjoyed his boyhood on the water with his father that he chose to raise his children the same way. His three daughters spent a lot of time cruising with him; they even crewed on a few offshore passages. “It is wonderful to watch your children learn and gain confidence operating a vessel,” he says. Today, all of his girls are licensed boaters and run their own craft, including his oldest daughter, Regan, who has spent time on a research vessel out of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. She has helped move boats from New England to Florida and takes her 18-foot Sailfish to hunt for fossils on beaches near Solomons. Simpson’s daughter Lauren has a 42-foot Hinckley with her husband, and his youngest daughter, Kelly, owns a Sea-Doo PWC that she runs on the Banana River in Florida.
“It should be said that my father mentored all of my children and the children of my siblings. He taught them to snorkel and schooled them on proper seamanship, among other things. When I watch him teach them, I remember my own experiences as his student, such as when he taught me how to dock his 42-foot Hatteras. He did it with patience and humor. It was an experience that I will always remember. I believe that one of the best things that can happen to anyone is to have great parents. In that respect, I have been lucky.”