Chummy Rich looks on with amusement as a poem is read about the construction of Karen E. prior to the boat’s christening Sunday at the Bernard Town Wharf. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

Chummy 34 Karen E. christened

TREMONT — After selling the boatyard his father founded in 2014, fifth-generation wooden boatbuilder Robert “Chummy” Rich christened what he claimed will be his last boat on Sunday.

Rich backs Karen E. away from the boat ramp shortly after it was launched. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

Karen E., a 34-foot lobster yacht that he’s been working on for several years, is a combination of his previous designs for motor yachts and working lobster boats.

“This boat is all for me, so I can do whatever I want to it,” he said.

The Chummy 34 is outfitted with a 380-horsepower Cummins diesel engine. He went with Cummins because “you have to buy an engine where you can get service, and they sell Cummins engines up the road here. If they were selling Model A Fords in Bass Harbor, that’s what you’d have to have. A Cadillac broke down on the side of the road is no better than a Chevy that you can drive off in.”

There’s also power hydraulic steering, a 20-gallon hot water heater and a propane cabin heater. It has a galley, V-berth, a roomy head and shower.

The interior features cherry trim and large windows, giving it a bright, airy feel.

Rich constructed a high dining table and benches so passengers are able to look out of the windows no matter where they are.

“You don’t want to be sitting down and all you see is the sky,” said Rich. “You want to be able to look out at the water.”

He launched the boat several times before it was finished. The first time, he wanted to test exactly where the waterline would be.

“I’ve got two big water tanks that I can put on top of the floor which will about equal the fuel tanks for weight,” he said at the time. “I’m gonna put it overboard and see exactly where it sets in the water. I’ve never done that before, and now that I have time, I want to do it.”

The oak backbone of the boat has spent even more time in the water already. He built it several years ago.

“I got so busy I couldn’t go any further with it,” he said. “I remembered an old Indian trick. I took it down to the harbor, over by Up Harbor Marina, and put it underwater and put rocks on it to hold it down. That kept it just like new for another year until I could get going on it.”



Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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