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.
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!
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.
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.
Camden Harbor Master – Ch 16 switching to 11
Lyman Morse – Ch 71
Camden Yacht Club – Ch 68
Lyman Morse, call ahead Ch 71 for availability, as there can be a queue.
Camden Town Dock
Camden Yacht Club (call ahead, 20-minute limit)
30 amp/120 volt
50 amp/120 volt
100 amp/single phase
100 amp/3 phase
30 amp/120 volt
50 amp/120 volt
Lyman Morse for mooring & dock customers
Lyman Morse for mooring or dockage customers
Clean Bee Laundry, 207-236-2530, Reny’s Plaza on Elm St. Daily 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Last Load Time 6:30pm
Camden Clothesline, 207-230-1166, 96 Washington St,, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
3+ bars Verizon cellular
Lyman Morse for mooring and dock customers
Camden Public Library
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.
Photo: French & Brawn
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.
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.
Photo: dining on the deck at Blue Barren
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.
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 by the widow (Deedee) of deceased CCA member Connie Conover and their four grown children. The property belongs to the town, and the Conover family is sometimes in residence, maintaining the buildings and grounds and occasionally engaging with visitors. We say all this to encourage respect for their privacy even though the land is public property. There’s also 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.
What CCA Members are saying:
It’s easy to sing the praises of Camden, since we’ve lived here for more than 30 years. Lots of great restaurants offering take-out meals; wonderful stores; French & Brawn with its excellent meat, deli, and bakery offerings; galleries; award-winning library…and great people!
We also live here and love Camden — it has something for everyone, including spectacular views from our local “mountains” (big hills), beautiful homes and local buildings, super-nice people, an excellent boatyard, and lots of other marine services. It’s also a great place to access grocery stores, gourmet shops, restaurants (book ahead), and nearly all the items your boat and crew will need.