To describe Maynard Bray as a luminary in the boating world risks portraying him as a mucky muck. In fact, he’s an ordinary Mainer whose passion for unique boats, his years of seeking them out along with their builders, designers, and owners, and the livelihood he’s built out of these pursuits, have made him widely known and appreciated.
Bray’s professional and geographic trajectory map his fascination with the building and enjoyment of boats. His enculturation on the Rockland, Maine waterfront as a kid, a BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maine, a stint at Electric Boat in Groton, CT in the 1950s, attainment to Chief Mechanical Engineer at Bath Iron Works, and a six-year immersion in wooden boats at Mystic Seaport as their shipyard supervisor marked his earlier career before he moved his family to Maine in the mid-1970s.
Back Home in Maine
While he stayed involved with Mystic for decades afterward, further interesting opportunities awaited him back in his home state. The Brays settled in Brooklin, where Maynard hired on as technical editor for WoodenBoat magazine, a position he still holds today. He’s also become known as half of the creative duo responsible for the Calendar of Wooden Boats: in this case, his longtime friend Ben Mendlowitz has been behind the camera, and Maynard has penned the captions. The collaboration has persisted since 1983.
Owing to an early love of photography, Maynard used cameras to build a rich document of his experiences with boats. He donated a large share of this archived work—some 20,000 black and white negatives—to Penobscot Marine Museum in 2013. The photographs are an engineer’s ode to the form, detail, craftsmanship, and use of boats. They are a wonderful legacy for those of a similar bent. Our photo archives volunteers and professionals have picked up the pace on digitizing and describing this collection. We’ve published selections of Maynard’s 120mm and 35mm work in our online database, with more rollouts pending this summer and fall.
The successes of our project team owe much to a funding campaign underway since late winter of 2021, which enabled us to hire two specialists. They’ve dedicated their time to the digital capture and description of Bray’s work. We still have some distance to go to stay on schedule and meet our fundraising goal. If the importance of these images is obvious to you the way it is to us, you may wish to contribute to the effort. You can do so easily by clicking the button below.
More recently, Maynard is one of the co-founders of OffCenterHarbor.com (or more commonly, OCH); OCH subscribers have access to engaging and informative 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.
He’s long been a friend to PMM. He and his late wife, Anne, spent many hours volunteering in the photo archives. Maynard continues to act as the de facto project scholar and has been tireless in helping us understand and interpret his collection. With his expert help, we’ve been creating a valuable and engrossing resource. To browse the image library we’ve created with the funds raised to date, click here.