John Clark III, a fourth-generation fisherman out of Provincetown who was known as JP, died unexpectedly on July 17, 2023 at his cottage in Wellfleet. He was 37.
“He was poisoned,” JP’s father, Jack, said, “by counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs.”
The great-grandson of Louis Silva, grandson of Kenneth Gregory, and son of Jack Clark, all captains, JP was the youngest man, at 18, to captain a commercial vessel from Provincetown since Capt. Todd Motta took over the Liberty Belle after his father, Frank, died in the 1970s.
JP was born on May 6, 1986 in Provincetown, where he grew up. From his earliest years, “it was always the sea,” said family friend Catherine Costa. “He just loved the sea.”
He grew up on the wharf, where he learned at the feet of Provincetown’s last true captains. His friends and mentors included Manny Phillips, George Adams, John Woods, Billy Young Sr., Chopper Young, Robert Young, Vaughn Cabral, Dickie Henrique, Elma Costa, Gerald Costa, Matt Costa, Paul Tasha, Tom Smith, Flyer Santos, Ralph Andrews, David Dutra, Chris Fortune, Richard Salvador, Jean Fortier, his grandfather Kenny Gregory, Bob White, Johnny White, Arthur Reis, Louie Rivers, Alfred Silva, Eddie Marcy, Eddie Silva, Peter Cabral, and Jimmy Kelly, among many others.
“They all loved him,” Jack said. “They took him under their wings and were very proud of him. He never missed a chance to listen to all the old-time knowledge.
“JP had innate ability,” Jack went on. “When he was a boy, he went on overnight tuna-fishing trips from Chatham. He caught his first tuna when he was 10 and went on to catch many others.” He also learned lobstering as a boy and went on his first scallop dragger with Chris Fortune.
“He enjoyed working with mobile instead of fixed gear because it was more challenging,” Jack said. JP had an uncanny ability to find scallops where there appeared to be none. “People wanted to buy his magic scallop rake,” Catherine Costa said. But it wasn’t the rake. “He had a special gift,” she said.
After graduating from Nauset Regional High School, JP captained many vessels fishing the waters from the Gulf of Maine out to Georges Bank and down to New Jersey. “He ran big boats out of Gloucester and New Bedford for sea clams,” Jack said.
JP never missed a chance to jump aboard when help was needed, and when the weather was too bad to be out on the water he worked as a shellfisherman, help his friends on their Wellfleet grants.
About 10 years ago, JP acquired his own boat, Searcher. It recently was driven under the wharf by a storm and needed to be refitted. He was working on that at the time of his death.
JP is survived by his father, Jack Clark of Truro; his mother, Gina Gregory of Truro; his sister, Katie DaCosta of Milton; and his aunt, Margaret James of Gloucester. He was an uncle to MK of Truro and Mia of Milton. He is also survived by his maternal grandmother, Babe Grady of Wellfleet, and grandfather Kenny Gregory of Provincetown, and by many other aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends.
His ashes were spread off Race Point Light on Aug. 4.
A fishermen’s sunset service at which anyone can speak will be held at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20, at Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro.