After a pleasant evening in Boothbay we dropped the mooring pennant at about 10:00 am and headed out of the bay in the warm, sparkling sunshine. For about 20 minutes. Then the fog descended. We had about one boat length of visibility for about 42 of the 45-ish mile trip to Camden. Thank goodness for excellent electronics. And for Rody’s diligent watchstanding and x-ray vision goggles.
As we approached Fishermen Island Passage just outside Boothbay Harbor, traffic converged. It was all-eyes-on-the-radar watching the other vessels, and anxious peering out into the heavy air looking for lobster pots and other other obstructions. We picked our way through the passage carefully, and although we had six or eight vessels in close proximity going different directions at any given time, everyone managed to stay out of trouble.
Things became slightly less congested for a while, until we had renewed traffic between Old Man Ledge and Whitehead Island. The one thing I can say about the fog in Maine is that folks up here are generally more prepared for it than at home, so skippers know how to deal with it and there is a little less panic.
Because the fog scaled up a bit as we closed on Whitehead Island, we elected to go up through Muscle Ridge Channel. And then the fog shut in again, as thick as ever. Fortunately there weren’t too many other boats in the passage – mainly lobster boats – so we were able to keep moving. Also the lobster pot density is nothing like it used to be, so dodging them was not a big problem. We did see Owl’s Head as we passed, but that was the last thing we would see until we entered Camden’s inner harbor and finally saw Camden Yacht Club emerge from the mist. I have never seen it so thick, in so close.
If you go to Camden, stay in the inner harbor. You can make reservations. The moored harbor floats are a lot of fun. You’re in the midst of all the activity, and it’s easy to get ashore. But more importantly, the moorings in the outer harbor are ridiculously uncomfortable, with constant rolling in all conditions. It is not a happy place. Spend a little extra $$ and get inside. If there’s no room inside, go someplace else and come back another time. Trust me.
It was a fun time to be in Camden because the Classic Yacht Regatta series was under way. On Thursday the fleet raced from Castine to Camden, so the harbor was full of lovely craft on Thursday evening. Plus it was a top-ten Flybridge Evening, so we had the perfect vantage to enjoy the spectacle. The drone went up for a look-see, and the see was excellent.
Camden was a social stop for us. You meet great people while cruising, and returning to favorite spots is always an excellent opportunity to renew friendships. We had fun visiting with old friends, going out for dinner, and having cocktails aboard. It’s also a good place to stock up if supplies are getting low. Lyman Morse at Wayfarer has all the resources you need for repairs, and they have a new restaurant on the dock that looks like fun.
This wasn’t a particularly cultural stop for us, although Camden does have a rich history. The Camden Library is a wonderful resource, and the park on the hillside at the head of the harbor, owned by the library, is a beautiful spot to pause and take in the constant activity on the water. It’s especially fun to be there on a Friday and Saturday, as we were, when the windjammer fleet, which typically take week-long cruises with guests, comes in to port to drop off their passengers and re-stock for the coming week. Walking around the well-kept residential neighborhoods is fun, there’s a great run out Bay View Street to Rockport and back. For a real hike, Camden Hills State Park is spectacular.
The fog persisted while we were in Camden. Although we didn’t plan it this time, we do find when we’re cruising it’s nice to be out poking around the remote islands when the weather is good, then ducking into the more civilized spots in foul weather. So this visit was well timed. We are looking forward to heading east now and doing some gunk holing, but we’ll certainly be back in Camden again before heading home.