John Wells Harrer died peacefully at home on Jan. 8. He was 67.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2019 and then with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) in May 2020, he had moved to Maine to be cared for by his former wife, Lesli.

He was born on July 20, 1953, in Boston to Susan Smith and John Morrison Harrer. He attended Shady Hill School in Cambridge, and later played basketball for Newton High. He attended Haverford College and the University of Hawaii before heeding Siren’s call and embarking on his sailing career.

In the 1970s John logged over 25,000 miles as deckhand and mate on the maxi-sloop, Ondine, racing in the Meditaranean, Cape Town to Rio, Miami to Jamaica, and in the Pacific. Then for something completely different, he signed on as first mate on the 144-foot Barkentine, Regina Maris, where he taught celestial navigation and accumulated many of his wonderful stories. Like many Island sailors before him, he was also part of the Shenandoah crew in his youth.

John moved to Martha’s Vineyard with Lesli in 1985, where he worked at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, built houses and raised his three boys, while continuing to be a yacht delivery captain throughout the East Coast, Caribbean and Bahamas.

He is survived by his sons Daine, Pierce, and Gavin Harrer; sisters Linda and Ann, nephew Julian Garberson; his friend and former wife, Lesli Dodge, her mother Joyce Dodge and sister Shari Foiles (who both loved the old sea dog!)

When feasible, his ashes will be taken south and released in the Bahamian waters he loved so well.