Maynard Bray Collection
We’re fortunate to have stewardship of some contemporary collections whose photographers are still with us. As many of our audience know, Maynard is alive and well and living in coastal Maine. He’s been working on and around boats for most of his life and has gone out of his way to meet countless others of a similar stripe.
After earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine, he went to work for Electric Boat in Groton, CT in 1956, followed by a six-year stint at Bath Iron Works. By the time he finished there in 1969, he’d become their Chief Mechanical Engineer. He spent the next six years at Mystic Seaport as shipyard supervisor. Here he was in his element: up to his elbows in wooden boats. After leaving Mystic for Maine in the mid-1970s, he stayed involved with Mystic Seaport into the early 2000s: he continued sourcing wood for the museum’s endless restorations, serving on the Ships and Yachting Committees, rescuing important collections of ships’ plans from being thrown out, and as one of the Museum’s trustees. Shortly after returning to the Maine coast, he landed a gig as technical editor for WoodenBoat magazine, a position he still holds today. He’s also been writing the captions for Ben Mendlowitz’s Calendar of Wooden Boats since 1983.
Luckily for small boat aficionados—owners, builders, admirers—Maynard photographed his activities along the way, beginning when he was a teenager. He donated his collection of some 25,000 black and white negatives to Penobscot Marine Museum in 2013. The photos illustrate the fascination Maynard and his late wife Anne shared for traditional craftsmanship and their joy at being on the water.
This initial rollout represents Maynard’s own selection of his early medium format film work, and will be followed throughout the coming year by sets of his 35mm images.
Of his early work, Maynard writes:
This first batch of 200 or so photos were mostly shot when I was in Junior High School (about 1947 and 1948) while my pal Don Merchant and I haunted the Rockland waterfront and our less geeky classmates were playing sports. Snow Marine Basin was then being created on Crocketts Point, across from where the Maine State Ferry terminal is presently located, and we hung out there, helping, immersing ourselves in boats, and taking lots of photos.
Fish processing in Rockland made for a working waterfront that fascinated us: its draggers and sardine carriers became so familiar that we knew which ones were in port just from seeing their mastheads as we peddled our bikes down Sea Street.
Don’s photos are also at PMM (collection LB2013.13), and by viewing his and my collections together you’ll get a good idea of what was going on along the Rockland waterfront in the days following the Second World War when fish were plentiful and yachts were few.
If you search for PIXIE/EAST WIND, PENOBSCOT, SEA WOLF, LELA, ALLSTON E., NABBY, CUCKOO, and BRUTAL BEAST, you’ll find what our own boats or the ones we used looked like. The steam lighter SOPHIA and the little tug HUGH were special to us even though they were on their last legs at the time. Search on Snow Marine Basin and you’ll begin to understand why both Don and I chose maritime professions.
My obsession with Herreshoff began with boats like DELIGHT, VENTURA, COCKATOO, and JOYANT, discovered after Anne and I were married and moved to Mystic, CT.
More recently, Maynard is one of the co-founders of OffCenterHarbor.com (or more commonly, OCH); OCH subscribers have access to engrossing and entertaining documentary videos the team produces. Their focus is on people who make, own, use, and repair small boats with a creative, DIY approach. PMM has often collaborated with OCH to share and mutually promote content.
Finally, we’re glad and lucky that Maynard spends a day a week during the cold months here in the PMM photo archives (as did his wife, Anne, before she died in 2018), donating his time to help us get his and other collections ready for our internet audience. We trust everyone will enjoy the fruits of this long labor. To browse his images, click here.