TREMONT — After a lifetime of building boats, Robert “Chummy” Rich is ready to let it go.
“I think 70 years is enough,” he said.
The fifth-generation wooden boatbuilder is near the finish line of his final project, a 34-foot lobster yacht that he’s been working on for the past four years.
Rich, 76, is the former owner of Bass Harbor Boatshop, which he sold to Richard Helmke in 2014.
Rich continues to renovate and repair pleasure crafts for his former shop, but since he sold the business, he has been able to make some time for himself. “This boat is all for me, so I can do whatever I want to it,” he said.
The Chummy 34 features a black and red lobster boat-style hull, spacious aft deck and a roomy interior.
“My other boat is a 44-footer, so I am working with less room,” Rich said. “But it feels pretty big in here.”
Rich recently took the boat out for a test drive across Bass Harbor. It floats, but the interior still needs some finish work.
The interior is complete with 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.”
Aside from the black and red hull, there is no paint on the boat. The interior is crafted out of white formica.
Rich has a simple explanation for that design decision.
“I don’t like painting,” he said. “[Formica] is easier to maintain and take care of.”
The Chummy 34 has a galley, V-berth, a roomy head and shower.
As for the mechanics of the boat, Rich has tested a few new tricks.
He installed a stainless steel rudder and propeller. “I’ve never done that before, so I wanted to try it,” said Rich.
The Chummy 34 is outfitted with a 380-horsepower Cummins diesel engine, power hydraulic steering, a 20-gallon hot water heater and a hot air cabin heater that runs off propane.
“I was out on the water in my other boat, which has heat,” said Rich. “If you want to take the boat out in the winter, you need to have heat; otherwise, it’s too cold.”
Rich plans to finish the Chummy 34 this winter, likely in February or March.
While it may be his last handcrafted project, this one may be his most personal.
“This is 100 percent my design, so it’s everything that I want,” said Rich. “This will be the last boat I build.”