Camden

44° 12′ 35″N , 69° 3′ 53″W

Camden, Maine

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Photo: Todd Anderson, French & Brawn

Perhaps Camden Harbor has more to offer the cruising sailor than any other on the coast.  Numerous mooring, anchoring, and docking options, comprehensive marine services, more than a dozen restaurants to please any palette. Plus laundry, provisions, and pharmacy, dozens of lodging options from B&Bs to boutique hotels, and drop-dead beautiful natural and marine attractions. Here’s a video of the harbor, to whet your appetite, courtesy of French & Brawn’s Todd Anderson.

Approach & Cautions

Photo: Tony Jin (King of Hearts)

Camden Harbor has two approaches with one major caution and two minor cautions. The wider, preferred approach starts at the R2 Bell and proceeds NW into the harbor leaving Curtis Island to port and Nuns 4 and 6 to starboard. The second narrower approach is called the Northeast Passage and begins at the red/white CH bell and proceeds approximately SW into the harbor leaving Can 1 and Daymark 3 to port and Northeast Point light (red day mark) to starboard. Once you have entered the outer harbor by either approach, you should then find and place yourself in the locally buoyed fairway through the mooring area and into the inner harbor. Be advised that this fairway is often used by large yachts and schooners and is a no-wake, 5-knot restricted area. Once in the inner harbor, the fairway splits into two legs with mooring floats in the middle. The general traffic flow is to enter to the east along the Lyman Morse docks and exit on the town or west side. Be advised that two large schooners return to their berths at the head of the inner harbor via the west side fairway! If you are entering in fog, listen to channel 16 for securité broadcasts by schooners and larger yachts as they make their way in or out of the harbor.

The major caution is a roughly triangular area between these two passages that is full of ledges. It can be loosely defined by an east leg of the triangle that runs from Nun 4 to Can 1, a leg to the northeast from Can 1 to Daymark 3, and a southwest leg that runs from Nun 6 to Nun 4. If you take the time to familiarize yourself with this triangle, it will make entry by either approach safe and straightforward.

triangle of ledges in Camden harbor
Stay alert, and don’t enter this triangle.

Aerial view of Camden, Maine, inner harbor with labels for yacht club, LM fuel dock and town dock.

The two minor cautions are first, The Graves (the rock) and the Graves gong buoy, approximately one mile south of the R2 bell. The rock is quite bold and very firmly in place. The second minor caution is the area inside Can 7 just past Curtis Island. The rocks southwest of this buoy seem to be just as adept at snagging locals as well as visitors. It seems that boaters become lulled into complacency as moorings surround the hazard.

Additional considerations are: 1) Never enter Camden Harbor by leaving Curtis Island to starboard. What appears to be an open passage has many moorings and unmarked rocks at shallow depths, and 2) the R2 bell is frequently used by Camden Yacht Club as a start and finish line and the Graves rock and buoy is often a turning mark on weekends….and yes, they race in the fog!

Chart of Camden harbor

Click the chart to open Navionics

Not to be used for Navigation .


Docking, Anchorages, or Moorings

Beautiful Camden Harbor has but one negative amongst its many virtues. The outer harbor can be uncomfortably rolly particularly with a breeze from SW to SE. It is generally well protected in the NE through West quadrants. The inner harbor is typically immune to the roll except in extreme storm conditions.

Please note: Camden Harbor is a very busy harbor. Please call ahead to Lyman Morse, the Harbor Master or the Yacht Club to obtain permission before docking for any reason.

Rental moorings are abundant especially through Lyman Morse (Ch 71) and can accommodate 25’ to 100’ yachts. The Camden Yacht Club (Ch 68) also has some guest moorings to rent as well as club member moorings that may be available while the owner is off cruising. Book on Dockwa or through the yacht club’s site.

Inner harbor floats may also be available from either Lyman Morse or CYC, but are restricted to yachts that are 42’ LOA or less.

Overnight dockage and slips are available from Lyman Morse or on the town dock via the Harbor Master. Again, do not dock without permission.

Be advised that during the last weekend in July (starting on Thursday) the Camden Classics Cup, attracting as many as 100 yachts ranging from daysailors to 90 footers will descend on Camden. A beautiful spectacle but a significant constraint on moorings and dockage. The first Thursday in August the Wooden Boat feeder race assembles in Camden creating another spectacle and perhaps another dose of congestion. They depart on Friday.

VHF

Camden Harbor Master – Ch 16 switching to 11 Lyman Morse – Ch 71 Camden Yacht Club – Ch 68

FUEL

Lyman Morse, call ahead Ch 71 for availability, as there can be a queue.

WATER

Lyman Morse, Camden Town Dock Camden Yacht Club (call ahead, 20-minute limit)

ELECTRICITY

Lyman Morse: 30 amp/120 volt 50 amp/120 volt 100 amp/single phase 100 amp/3 phase Town Dock: 30 amp/120 volt 50 amp/120 volt

SHOWERS

Lyman Morse for mooring & dock customers

LAUNDRY

Lyman Morse for mooring or dockage customers Lighthouse Laundry, 207-236-2530, Reny’s Plaza 83 Elm St. Daily 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Attendant hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Camden Clothesline, 207-230-1166, 96 Washington St,, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

WIFI

3+ bars Verizon cellular Lyman Morse for mooring and dock customers Camden Public Library at the head of the harbor

PUMP OUT

Lyman Morse Camden Town Dock

SERVICES

TRASH

Dumpster on the town landing (please don’t deposit trash in small container by harbormaster’s hut.)

MEDICAL

Pen Bay Medical Center is about 5 miles south on Rt. 1 in Rockport.

MORE BOAT AMENITIES

Buildings of Lyman Morse on Camden's waterfront
Buildings of Lyman Morse on Camden’s waterfront, photo by Todd Anderson

Lyman Morse: VHF Channel 71, Dock house 207-236-7108, Office 207-236-4378, or Dockwa for reservations.

Camden Harbor Master: VHF Channel 16 switching to Channel 11, 207-236-7969

Camden Yacht Club dock house: VHF Channel 68, 207-236-3014, [email protected]

Delivery service for meals or whatever: Craft Delivery Service; 207-542-0360

Getting Ashore

Photo: Todd Anderson, French & Brawn

If you are using a Lyman Morse or Camden Yacht Club inner harbor float or mooring, you may find it most convenient to hail their respective launches on Channel 71 (Lyman Morse) or Channel 68 (Camden Yacht Club). Either may be able to accommodate your dinghy otherwise you may find space at the town dock at the head of the inner harbor. Dinghy space is very limited anywhere in Camden.

downton intersection of Camden
Deli counter at French & Brawn.

Photo: French & Brawn

Provisioning

French and Brawn is located about 100 yards from the town dock. Small but fully stocked market and deli with an exceptional meat and seafood section. Some delivery options. 207-236-3361, 1 Elm St.

Hannaford grocery store and pharmacy is located about 1 mile from the town landing straight south on Route 1. 207-236-8577, 145 Elm St., Instacart delivery.

Goods, at 31 Elm St., has a small but amazing collection of Maine food products that you won’t find anywhere else (that I know of!).

Walgreens: Has limited food provisions, liquor and wine, and drug store items, 207-236-4546. In the next block beyond French and Brawn, 35 Elm St.

Lily Lupine & Fern: Wine, craft beers, cheese, and flowers. 207-236-9600, 11 Main St., 50 yards to the right when you get to the top of the hill at the town landing.

deck dining at Blue Barren

Photo: dining on the deck at Barren’s

Dine Out

The list below only represents the restaurants that the authors have frequented. Please check out their menus and reviews and make your own decision as to what seems appealing. Some have well-developed take-out capabilities. Most are within two blocks from the town landing.

Dinner and/or Lunch

Barren’s Distillery + Restaurant: (Pub Fare and their own gin) 207-230-8422, on the dock at Lyman Morse

Bistro La Cave: On the town landing, 207-230-8818. French bistro and jazz bar, new in 2023.

40 Paper: (Italian, GF) 207-230-0111, 40 Washington St.

Franny’s Bistro: (American, seafood, veg & GF friendly) 207-230-8199, 55 Chestnut St.

Fresh and Company: (American) 207-236-7005, 1 Bayview Landing

Hartstone Inn: (New England/International) offering curbside pickup, 207-236-4259, 41 Elm St.

Long Grain: (Asian) 207-236-9001, 20 Washington St.

Mixed Greens: (salads and more) 207-230-8150, 15 Main St.

Mosaic: (eclectic tacos, salads, small plates) 207-230-8380, 31 Elm St., new in 2023

Natalie’s: (gourmet) 207-236-7008, 83 Bayview St.

Peter Otts on the Water: (steaks, pasta, seafood) 207-236-4032, 16 Bayview Landing

Salt Wharf: (Seafood Centric), 207-236-4378, on the dock at Lyman Morse

The Waterfront Restaurant: (Seafood, etc.) 207-236-3747, 48 Bayview St.

Breakfast and/or Lunch and Coffee Breaks

Bagel Café: (bagels, lunch, salads) 207-236-2661, 25 Mechanic St.

Camden Cone: (ice cream!) 207-236-6448, 31 Bay View St.

Camden Deli: (diverse menu and excellent baked goods) 207-236-8343, 37 Main St.

Laugh Loud Smile Big: (cupcakes!) 207-230-7001, 38 Main St.

Marriners: (No ferns, no quiche, no website; but they are on Facebook) 207-236-4949, 35 Main St.

Owl & Turtle Bookshop Cafe: (what a combination–an independent bookstore, great coffee and delicious pastries!) 207-230-7335, 33 Bay View St.

River Ducks Ice Cream: (ice cream!) 207-322-7129, 19 Mechanic St. Open 12:00 to 8:30

Whistling Whale Coffee Bar: (coffee and baked goods) on the dock at Lyman Morse, new in 2023. Cold brew coffee, served hot or cold, delicious pastries, amazing location!

Zoot: (coffee, wifi, treats) 207-236-9858, 5 Elm Street. Camden’s hub.

baked goodies at Zoot
Baked goodies at Zoot

 

chairs on the dock at Lyman Morse
Comfortable seating with a great view while you drink your coffee from the Whistling Whale. Photo by Jane Babbitt

View of lower Penobscot Bay from Mt. Batty.

Photo: View of the harbor and bay from Mt. Battie. Photo by Jane Babbitt

Hikes

Camden Hills State Park has many trails, and some trailheads are close to the harbor. Maps may be available at the Chamber of Commerce on the Town Landing.

Coastal Mountains Land Trust has an extensive network of trails on its many preserves in Camden.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust‘s Aldermere Farm, just over the border in Rockport, is an interesting walk, and you’ll see the Belted Galloway cows. Walking directions (map) are provided below.

three belted Galloway cows grazing in a field
The Belted Galloway cows are a distinctive breed. Photo courtesy of Maine Coast Heritage Trust

 

map of walk from Camden to Aldermere Farm
The walk along Bay View St. to Chestnut St. is scenic.

Camden Public Library with benches at Harbor Park in the foreground.

Photo: Camden Public Library viewed from Harbor Park. Photo by Bud on Flickr

Other Things To Do

Chamber of Commerce office – at the town landing: (hiking maps, brochures, local knowledge) 207-236-4404

Camden Public Library – at the head of the harbor: (scores of local events, Walsh History Center, books, wifi) 207-236-3440,

Camden Opera House – one block from the town landing at 29 Elm St.: (live performances) 207-236-7963

Curtis Island (at harbor entrance): This local gem is easily accessed from the beach on the NW side facing the inner harbor. It has hiking trails, benches to rest upon, picnic tables, and the local lighthouse and keeper’s house — all carefully taken care of for the past 43 years by the widow (Deedee) of deceased CCA member Connie Conover and their four grown children. The Conover family maintained the buildings and grounds (and occasionally engaged with visitors) longer than any other keeper, and wrote a book about their experiences that’s available at the Camden Public Library. They moved off island in the spring. There’s a giant rope swing attached to a high branch that kids adore. Be careful to pull your dinghy or kayak well up onto the beach if the tide is rising.

White house and lighthouse on Curtis Island
Curtis Island by Dale Bruce

OUR REVIEWS

What CCA Members are saying:

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