A salute to Captain Les Bex
A Salute to Captain Les Bex from Capt. Ray & Ann
It is with deep regret that I report the passing of my good friend and mentor Captain Les Bex. Had it not been for him Ann and I would never have had the opportunity to own these magnificent vessels which have shaped so much of our lives.
A long-time presence on the Camden waterfront, Les began his maritime adventures in the mid-1960's.
After taking a windjammer vacation aboard the Mary Day with Capt. Havilah Hawkins, they agreed that he would take a break from his career as a mechanical engineer and return the next season as a deckhand.
In 1969 Les and Ann with their two young children Katie and Michael, moved to Camden and purchased the "Green Boats". Maine Windjammer Cruises remained in his care for 16 years.
I first met Les in the spring of 1982. After sailing to New England from the Virgin Islands on the schooner Harvey Gamage I spent four days in the Camden area securing housing and interviewing for any position I might find on one of the windjammers. His words of advice, “If you’re going to work for anybody here you should work for me because I’m the only one who hires captains.”, rang in my ears.
When our young family moved to Camden a month later full of enthusiasm for schooners, we probably looked a lot like Les had a decade and a half earlier. My first stop was to visit Captain Bex and he offered me a job right away. My first position was as deckhand aboard the 100-year-old schooner Mattie (now Grace Bailey). The position paid $60 a week and all you could eat! I considered it a great opportunity and accepted immediately.
The next season he trusted me with the command of his small schooner Mistress, another great opportunity for me to advance my career. As our bond became closer I referred to him as “Uncle Les”.
The third season he made me captain of the Mercantile. Things were happening fast and I only have Les to thank for this.
During our fourth season together he agreed to sell us the business. Trusting in our success he held the mortgage making our lifetime dream possible. Thanks to Les, in 1986 Ann and I became owners of Maine Windjammer Cruises. As we assumed the daunting task of carrying on the tradition of the Original Windjammer Fleet, Les gave us constant support and assistance over the years.
At the request of his family, it will be our honor to celebrate his life with a memorial sail aboard one of his schooners in the upcoming season.