Christian Townsend


Q. Most of us have heard of tugboats. What is a towboat?
A. Towboats are a little different than tugboats: towboats push barges up the Mississippi River. There are 6,000 towboats on the river, owned primarily by five or six companies. Our clients operate 95 percent of the machinery on the Mississippi. One thing I like about the towboat industry is that it’s very small. There are few naval architects and there are few engineers in the industry. It’s a tight group and everybody is passionate about it. My father might be considered the “grandfather of towboats.”

Q. Does your father continue to work at CT Marine?
A. He probably works about 70 hours a week. His ultimate love in life is designing these boats. He would certainly do it without pay. The first thing he thinks about when he wakes up is how to improve the boats. We’re working on innovative technologies like introducing liquid natural gas to towboats, and developing more efficient transportation systems for the Mississippi. I have so much admiration for my dad. He is the hardest worker I know: unbelievably smart and dedicated.

Q. How long have you been doing this?
A. About 25 years. I’ve been around these boats for nearly 40 years. I was in shipyards with my dad when I was eight, usually sitting in the car because the yard wouldn’t let me in because I was too young. I’ll do this until I’m retired, if that ever happens. I hope to have my kids take over.

Q. How did your family get into boat design?
A. I think it’s just what we’ve been around. I grew up on Boston Whalers and was running around the Connecticut shores when I was nine. I went into my dad’s business because it provides flexibility, and we have a shared love of the water. My kids are the same way. They love the water and my wife does, too. We bought a large sailboat a couple years ago in order to sail down to the Bahamas. We planned to pull the kids out of school for a year or two. Then, on a whim, we bought a camp on Moosehead Lake. Now the boat’s on the market and we’ve changed gears drastically, but we’re still shooting for water if we can get to it.

Q. How did you end up in Maine?
A. My wife and I read an article describing Portland as one of the top ten places to raise a family. We immediately came up to investigate in a blinding December snowstorm. Then we drove back to Connecticut, packed our bags and turned around. Kathryn started a real estate company up here that she has run for about 10 years. It seems that every family member that has come to visit us has also eventually moved here. My stepbrother, my sister, both sets of my parents: everybody has moved to Maine. It was meant to be.

Q. Most people don’t choose to live in Maine when they visit during a snowstorm.
A. Maine is such an amazing place. The physical environment, the people, the art and the food—all that rubbed off on all my siblings and parents as they came up here. I can’t imagine living anywhere else besides Maine—and specifically, Portland. The snow is an issue with my wife, though, so I don’t know if she’d do the same thing again.

Q. Has your family since embraced the snow?
A. We’ve made the weekend pilgrimage to Sugarloaf every weekend for the last couple of years. I’m proud to be a Sugarloafer. It’s a big part of my life. The boys love to ski. Kathy doesn’t ski every weekend but she’s there; she’s a trooper and she skis as often as she can. She would much rather be in Antigua on the beach than in Sugarloaf with the 20-below wind chill, but we go up all the time. We absolutely love it. If we could ski year-round, we would.


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