Here are some of the characters that make for such a lively atmosphere down at Lees Wharf Oyster Company.
Cindy Lees was born in Flint, Michigan, and grew up moving around the Midwest. Luckily, she was able to stay in one place long enough to finish high school in upstate New York, where her parents had boats on Lake George. That’s when she found a love of the water and boating. From there, Cindy moved again in 1978, this time, to New England. She lived the long hours of office life working with computers, juggling her demanding job with the raising of two children (now in their 30s). The water and her dream of cruising led her to literally move aboard her newly purchased Grand Banks 42 in Summer 2010. Cindy and Al were married July 2011 and now enjoy great times with their collective fleet of boats, while Cindy moonlights as a seashell artist, specializing in Sailors’ Valentines.
Al Lees has been on and around the waterfront a good part of his life. From a long line of Westport ‘natives,’ he is committed to the history of the town and to the continuation of commercial fishing as a necessary and important aspect of the local culture. Living at “The Wharf” with Cindy gives him the opportunity to fully embrace how special the people and the places found on Westport’s working waterfront really are.
When not out on the boat getting mucky with oysters, you can find Al at Lees Market, a local landmark where he and his family have been serving generations of area families for over 60 years, or on a plane to Scotland for time with family and friends near a peat fire and a glass of whisky.
Chris Chase was imported from Little Compton, Rhode Island. A full-time commercial fisherman on the south shore, Chris keeps his boat, The Gale, at “The Wharf.” Chris has fished the ocean for swordfish, lobsters, and monkfish since his teen days. We’re fortunate to have his strong back, boating expertise, and pleasant personality aboard. We can always count on Chris to work the farm.
Jennifer Brewster is difficult to get off the water! Born and raised in Westport like her cousin Al Lees, Jennifer is an expert house painter/decorator. She was responsible for all the new painting during “The Wharf’s” remodeling. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga and driving her wooden skiff around the Westport River.
Chris Brewster is a tugboat captain for a company in Providence, Rhode Island and has enjoyed being a commercial fisherman for 35 years. He and his wife Jennifer keep “his and hers” 16-foot wooden skiffs at “The Wharf.” Chris is great with knot tying and recently made rope fenders for our Carolina skiff on the floating dock.
Bruce Gifford, a tugboat captain with the same Providence company as Chris, also does some lobstering on the side. While his life-sized skiff rests at “The Wharf,” Bruce is a master builder of model boats! Bruce and his wife, Sarah, have three children, and most days when Bruce isn’t on the tugboat you will find him teaching his children to drive the skiff and how to trap lobsters in the Westport River.
John Borden is a captain and commercial fisherman, and is a wonderful resource for us with his many years of experience on the water. Retired from “the big boats,” John can now be found most days out in the river digging quohogs and wild oysters.