Peter's Story

HARBORSIDE - Peter Augustus Chase was born March 20, 1950, in the middle of a family of seven, and the first of that brood to depart this life. He died Monday morning, March 16, 2015, four days short of his 65th birthday.

Peter was a boatbuilder. He came by it naturally: salt water was in his veins as it had been in his fathers' and his forefathers' for countless generations. Born and raised in rural Connecticut, he spent all of his summers on Horseshoe Cove in Brooksville, Maine. He was fortunate to have attended North Country School in the 7th and 8th grades where he was liberated from a traditional curriculum to a school life that included the great outdoors and the arts. It was a farm school, and on his first vacation home from that school he won the appellation: "Big Barn Smell." He went on from there to Putney School in rural Vermont where his particular learning style continued to find nourishment. There he also found a high school sweetheart, in the 11th grade, and in due time married her. With Sophie Spurr, he built a home that seemed to house us all.

From Putney, Peter went on to The Philadelphia School of Art to Ireland, to the Washington County Vocational Technical Institute to study boatbuilding in Lubec, Maine; to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Maryland, and finally back home for good to Cape Rosier, Maine. He and Sophie built their home on Horseshoe Cove in 1979, raised two daughters, Karina and Rosie, and made their way as boatbuilder and lawyer. They were a team, no strangers to hard work, exuberant parents, and the soul of hospitality.

Peter's year in Ireland fired his love for traditional working vessels, and his designs and workmanship never wavered from a loyalty to the honesty and elegance of the useful. Design was his life's passion and he became known for his skill as a master boatbuilder. He worked at St. Michaels' Maritime Museum and then with his brother, Carl, finishing off Jarvis Newman Friendship Sloop hulls. He designed and built the Dirigo 17 kayak at Weber's Cove in Blue Hill, and then went to work at Brooklin Boat Yard for 20 years. He loved his time at the yard and there he made many lifelong friends. He also built a dozen Peapods in Jimmy Steele's shop. Finally he got to work in his back yard building his own small craft designs, the Cape Rosier Wherry, the Cape Rosier Guide Boat, the Cape Rosier Cradleboat, and the yawl boat tender - Voluntary II. Building his own designs he was the happiest. Peter was taken by a rare neuro-degenerative disease known as Frontotemporal Degeneration. He packed a lot into those last years as he faced the known unknown, and built half models and small craft as if his life depended on it, and indeed it did. Peter was a peacemaker, he will always be remembered for his generosity of spirit, his quiet, mischievous sense of humor, his way with few words, and the simplicity of his joy in life. Peter was a teacher who wanted to share traditional boat building with anyone who would listen.

He is survived by his two daughters, Karina and Rosie, their husbands Billy Dailey and Jason Bartsch; his four beloved grandchildren, Liam, Parker, Linnea, and Anders; his mother, Mary Chase; six siblings, Carl Chase, Arria Bilodeau, Eric Chase, Lisa Chase, Johanna Chase and Andy Chase; and by his life mate, Sophie Spurr.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to (The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration.
Published in Bangor Daily News
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