Searsport is a deceptive mecca. Located just 4 miles east of Belfast in the northwest corner of Penobscot Bay, it’s really just a cove with no protection from southerly winds. As such, there are few moorings in the harbor, but plenty of room for anchoring. Not so inviting?
Think again. The town pier is a substantial concrete-and-granite, J-shaped structure with a launch ramp at its base. You can tie up to a float in the pier’s crook and walk uphill through a quiet neighborhood and into a town that is an antique-shopper’s nirvana.
Even better, you can hike out to Hamilton Marine’s giant retail facility just east of town on U.S. Route 1, where most boaters rejoice in the scads of gear and wise retail counseling they get at Maine’s premier marine hardware store. Boaters can always find whatever they need, and then some. Owner and town harbormaster Wayne Hamilton may even give you a lift back to the town pier.
Searsport is arguably one of Maine’s premier antiques and collectibles centers, and certainly the most accessible from a cruising boat. Here you’ll find everything from baseball cards and military memorabilia to collections of bottle caps, nautical paintings and objects, plus books, furniture and undreamed of “must haves.”
The Penobscot Marine Museum on Maine Street is a Searsport institution worth visiting. It features the largest historic boat display in Maine, an extensive library, educational programs for kids, and much more. Its gift shop is located next door at Captain Tinkam’s Emporium, which is jammed with old tools and nautical ephemera, while the museum store offered an eclectic mix of items at a variety of prices for the historically minded.
Naturally, many boaters will simply visit Searsport to get away from the hustle of more popular southern Penobscot Bay destinations, or as a stopover on trips farther Down East or up the Penobscot River. Either way, it’s a town worth visiting.