Marblehead’s David Roper navigates through years of stories about life at sea

Marblehead —

It was 351 years ago that English navigator Henry Hudson documented a mermaid sighting off the arctic coast of Russia, describing a white body of a woman with long black hair and the speckled tail of a porpoise.

Fast forward almost 300 years to the summer of 1959, when David H. Roper was 9 years old. Roper recalls — and perhaps embellishes — a sailing excursion to Maine with his father… and his own mermaid encounter.

Since seventh grade, Roper knew he’d wanted to be a writer. In his early teens, Roper and his family moved from Hingham to Marblehead, where inspiration to write his stories surfaced from life on the sea.

Roper’s sailing experiences came from many marine jobs, boating adventures and other odd jobs, including boat delivery, which he notes was dangerous, but all those jobs helped subsidize his writing habit.

He also began a business in 1982, storing resumes, wills, trusts and other documents on a computer, and then re-writing them, during a time when hardly anyone had a computer. His business evolved into a career-counseling firm, A-Script Career Services in Marblehead, where he has also written biographies for Oprah Winfrey’s company, Harpo Productions.

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