February 21, 2018

Fisherman Friday; Captain ‘Junior’ Bray

Lawrence Bray Jr, colloquially known as ‘Junior’ has lived in Stonington all his life and fishing has been a part of it since the beginning. “I used to sail a small boat here in the cove, and make believe I was lobstering” reflected Junior. As a youngster, he would go fishing with his father, Lawrence Sr. and his brother Robert. Here’s Lawrence Sr in his trap yard and eight-year-old Junior with a 50lb halibut (Senior and Larson Bridges in background):

A lot has changed here in Stonington over the years. “More fishermen are in the harbor… it’s a different kind of traffic” Junior reasoned. It was not uncommon to see large sail boats docked right along the shore here in Greenhead when Junior was a child.

By age 13, Junior had his own lobstering license and would use an old skiff with an outboard to hand-haul his wooden traps. Over the years, he gradually moved into bigger boats and expanded into various fisheries. After fishing many seasons on the wooden, 34′, leaky F/V: Gale, Junior moved into F/V: LBJ a 24′ wooden hull built by Harold Gower of Beals.

Named after Junior’s two sons, his next boat was the 37′ F/V: Brian Lawrence.

The Bray’s connection with the shore is evident through all generations. Beyond fishing, Lawrence Sr enjoyed building and operating remote controlled boats, something his grandsons enjoyed as well!

Over the years, Junior has fished for ground fish, shrimp, scallops and urchins. These days he keeps it simple and goes solely for Maine lobster. “I’ve enjoyed all the different things I’ve done for work over the years. I have no complaints… when I was shrimping, it was COLD. All of Blue Hill Bay was froze up, but I still enjoyed it.” Because he lives on the shore, with VHF handy, he’s been called out to sea for emergencies a dozen or so times in “a gale of wind of something, and we’ve lucked out and found them all.”

Since 1986, Junior can be found aboard F/V: Joyce Eileen, a 36’ Duffy, named after his wife. Junior and Joyce just celebrated 53 years of marriage this month! They met at a dance at the Deer Isle Legion Hall.

With so many days spent on the water, fishermen get familiar with the sea, the islands, and especially the ocean floor! One day while returning home from fishing, Junior noticed something very strange on his bottom-reader while passing by the Southeast side of Rock Island. It looked BIG. Right when he thought he might hit something, he passed right through it. Dumbfounded, he turned around to have another look. There ‘it’ was on the bottom finder again—what appeared to be a very large object, but alas, he passed right through it again. The memory of that unidentified underwater object still sits with Junior to this day!

Junior has enjoyed competing in a number of boat races over the years! Back in 1991, he took 2nd place at the Booth Bay Lobster Boat Race with all his dragging gear on board!

Junior was one of the very first fishermen to sell to Greenhead Lobster back in the mid-90s, and we are fortunate to also buy from his son, Lawrence, as well as Junior’s two grandsons, Stuart and Devin. Thank you, Junior, for all the years of hard work!