Sproul's formative years took place near Newport's Nye Beach. His father, a career Naval officer, supported the family by spending as much -- if not more -- time deployed at sea as he did at home.
His poem, 66 Days at Sea, captures a perspective that mirrors the childhood experiences of many commercial fishermen's sons and daughters:
With one small suitcase and a half-salute to the wind, my father steps onto the ship's gangplank and out of our lives ... We fall back to who we think we are -- tough beach kids who never go to the beach... I learn the language of loss in our eyes... we suffer this house and its various empties... time doesn't pass, it enters us.