Lobster yacht rebuild showcases wooden boat expertise

Richard Helmke, left, and Robert “Chummy” Rich prepare to transport the newly rebuilt Mary B for launching Saturday in Bernard. The wooden “lobster yacht” was originally built in 1984 by Rich’s late uncle Ronald.

TREMONT — Mary B, a 1984 Ronald Rich-built wooden lobster yacht that came home to Mount Desert Island last fall for a complete interior rebuild, re-launched last Saturday in Bernard. The late Ronald Rich was the uncle of Robert “Chummy” Rich, who recently sold his yard to Richard Helmke.

Helmke and Chummy Rich still work together at Bass Harbor Boatshop. Along with crew members Bobby Kelly and Vicky Musetti and some help from Kramp Electric, they gutted, rebuilt and rewired Mary B, over the winter.

Originally, Helmke said, the boat was sort of a cross between a yacht and a lobster boat. “It was built for a gentleman who was retired and wanted to do a little fishing,” he said. “It had a head and v-berth, but that was about where it ended. You went down below, and there was really nothing there.”

Mary B’s current owners summer in Sorrento. “It was mostly a lobster boat with a few pleasure boat features,” Helmke said. “He indicated he’d like to make it more of a pleasure boat – make it fun for his family.”

The crew at Bass Harbor Boatshop made more room on the deck by moving the engine aft into a deeper part of the bilge and building up the forward part of the pilothouse. Those two changes eliminated the need for the large engine box. The original 210 Cummins engine is still in great shape and was reinstalled following the rebuild.

There’s a new swim platform and entirely new cabin interior. Opposite the helm in the pilothouse is a small dinette. A new galley below features a stove, refrigerator and hot water. A cabin heater makes it more likely the family will use the boat well into the fall.

Bass Harbor Boatshop has plans to expand its storage business with a new building and 25 boats, including the Mary B, signed up to spend the winter inside.

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.
Liz Graves

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