Dawn Simpson took her husband Joel sailing on the York River on their 27th wedding anniversary. They were visiting from Ocean City, Maryland, the charter sail brought back memories for Joe of the water.

“My father’s father was eight when he came to Ocean City to work on steamship ferries as a boy. My father worked for him later and they opened a seafood wholesaler that became very big but not very profitable. They caught trout and cobia and everything else and packed it on ice in wooden boxes to ship by train to restaurants along the East Coast.

“He’s always had his captain’s license, ever since I can remember. He spent years running a sport fishing boat for a single owner who took his friends out on sailboat charters like this, only for fishing instead. More recently he sold his Maryland fishing license, which is like a New York City taxi medallion in that it allows you to fish many species to certain commercial limits.

“We bought an island in the Chesapeake Bay years ago called Beach Island. My grandfather built a house there and had to move it around on the island because of the storms. Finally the nor’easter of ’33 took it to the sea. We moved on to Cedar Island, which is seven miles long.

“My father is 87 now and still fishes. He’s taken up surf fishing and has taught people how to do it. I go with him to the beach sometimes and let him drive. My brother and sister want me to take his driver’s license away, but he’s very observant and obeys the speed limit. He realizes his limitations. He had a quadruple bypass and has lost some of his edge. My mother now seems to dominate the marriage more than she used to. One reason he’s in such good shape is that he’s always been outdoor hunting and fishing. My mother was diagnosed with multiple myeloma three years ago, but she hasn’t deteriorated since then. I don’t think it bothers her.

 “Where they live today, they have only one bathroom. That’s fine, but it’s outdated. Since they’re both 87, I asked them if they wanted to move into a home for senior but they’d rather stay put. So I remodeled their bathroom with new fixtures.

“Our family has a real attraction to the water. I’ve built two small boats, including a dinghy. We know a lot about fishing, that’s for sure.”

When we departed, I asked Joel to convey to his father that I had to jump over 49 regulatory hurdles to secure my 50-ton captain’s license, including a security check by TSA of Homeland Security. He shook his head in dismay, and I imagine his father might as well.

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