I met Mark S. Williams in May 2004 when he called me to ask for help with publishing his book F/V Black Sheep. Over the years that we worked on his book we became very close spending time together nearly every day. In that time I came to appreciate him for many things -- his intelligence, his humor, his strength and, above all his sensitivity. His book was published in June 2006 and he was very proud of it. Mark died unexpectedly in May 2008. This site is my way of honoring a talented writer, a Gloucester native son and fisherman, and my dear friend.
- Kathleen Valentine

The Gloucester Historic Commission awarded Mark S. Williams and F/V Black Sheep a Preservation Award for contributing to preserving the history of Gloucester. The Commission cited the depiction of the working waterfront at Empire Fish Company and the descriptions of lobster fishing as being especially meritorious.

F/V Black Sheep: Working alone on a September afternoon, Gloucester, Massachusetts fisherman Mark Williams was setting back lobster pots aboard his boat f/v Black Sheep, five miles off of Good Harbor Beach where he grew up. Suddenly a trawl line cinched around his leg and within seconds he was being dragged overboard to a sure death twenty fathoms below. As he clung desperately to the stern of the Black Sheep his life literally passed before his eyes. In those pain-filled terrifying minutes he recalled his boyhood, growing up on Good Harbor Beach, the son of one-time professional football player Ted Williams, and the lessons his father taught him that would save his life. Williams lived to record the memories that filled those minutes - from a boyhood working for his father in a fish-packing plant on the Gloucester waterfront to his own career lobster-fishing alone in the North Atlantic.

F/V Black Sheep is the story of that afternoon and the memories that came rushing back. Williams takes us from the violent world of the Gloucester waterfront where he once spent a summer shooting rats for the owner of Empire Fish Company through brawls with vicious men, encounters with enticing women, and the omnipresent dangers of a life lived working on the ocean. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes breath-taking, always entertaining (including a humorous recollection of an evening spent drinking with "Sully" who was to die aboard the Andrea Gail shortly afterwards) the stories that comprise F/V Black Sheep build to a heart-stopping conclusion as Williams is dragged overboard, descends to the bottom of the ocean, and a rescue so remarkable it took him years to acknowledge it.


The Williams house from Good Harbor Beach with tidal creek in foreground.

With friend Michael Moriarity
 
Hauling traps at Eastern Point Light

Aboard the Chassea

Storm over Gloucester Harbor with Paint Factory on horizon

Lobsterman John Symonds working on his boat Cros

Sunrise over Good Harbor Beach from the Williams house.

Loading traps in Smith's Cove while swans watch

Ted Williams when he played for the Philadelphia Eagles

At the present time F/V Black Sheep is not in print. At Mark's death the rights to the book reverted to his family.
It is their decisions as to whether or not it can be put back in circulation.

Copyright 2009 - All rights reserved.
All photos of the Black Sheep by Jay Albert, these photos may not be used without permission.

All copy on this page by Kathleen Valentine. Copy may not be used without permission.
Kathleen can be reached through her web site KathleenValentine.com and her blog ParlezMoiBlog.com