Charts: NOAA 13305, 13307
Camden is located inside Penobscot Bay, about halfway down the Maine coast, some 60 miles east-northeast of Portland. When approaching from offshore, look for the lighthouse on Monhegan Island to the west (43° 45.9´ N, 69° 18.9´ W) and the Matinicus Lighthouse to the east (43° 51.9´ N, 68° 52.9´ W), which together mark the bay’s western entrance. Pass about 2 miles east of Monhegan and well west of unlighted Metinic Island. Once beyond Monhegan, set a course for the big, red-and-white, lighted whistle buoy “MP” (43° 53.3´ N, 69° 10.9’ W). Once you reach the buoy, visibility and sea conditions will dictate whether you pursue the wide-open Two Bush Channel entrance or the narrow, ledge-filled Muscle Ridge Channel. Both routes require accurate chart work. Both lead you to a position just east of Owl’s Head Light (44° 05.5´ N, 69° 02.6´ W).
In clear weather, the route to the red, unlighted bell buoy “2” at the entrance of Camden Harbor (44° 12.0´ N, 69° 2.4’ W) is simple enough. In foggy weather, however, keep a sharp lookout for the nearby lighted and gonged ledges known as The Graves. Once at entrance bell buoy “2,” pay attention to your depthsounder to stay in deep water until you reach Camden’s outer harbor.
- Dockage is scarce in Camden, especially in summer. Boaters should call ahead to reserve space. In pinch, the Harbormaster (207-236-7969, VHF 16) may be able to find you a temporary, private mooring.
- Wayfarer Marine (207-236-4378; VHF 71): The only full-service marina in Camden. Wayfarer offers a wide range of services, including hauling of boats up to 100′, fuel, transient dockage, moorings, pump-out, marine supplies, showers and laundry.
- Willey Wharf (207) 236-3256: Can handle boats in excess of 100′, although they don’t offer haul-out or repairs. Fuel, showers and laundry are available.
- Camden Yacht Club at (207-236-3014, VHF 68): Private club offering reciprocity.
Anchoring anywhere near Camden is difficult because the prime spots are full of private moorings. Anchoring in the inner harbor is prohibited. Be aware that conditions can be rolly for those who anchor or moor in the outer harbor.
- Steve Pixley
- (207) 236-7969; VHF 16
- Camden Harbormaster on Facebook
A good all-tide ramp is located next to Wayfarer Marine, just east of the inner harbor. This ramp has a good float, but limited on-street parking. Contact Wayfarer to see about paid parking.
- French & Brawn, Inc. (207) 236-3361: Basic groceries, wine and beer close to the harbor.
- Captain Andy’s Seafood (207) 236-2312
- Beer, wine and liquor can be obtained at Lilly Lupine’s and Hanniford Supermarket (207) 236-8577, a short distance outside of town at 145 Elm Street.
- Don’s Taxi (207) 236-4762
- Maine Sport Outfitters (888) 236-8797: Sea and lake kayak rentals and tours.
Clothing stores, boutiques, art galleries and a Rite-Aid pharmacy are a short walk from the inner harbor. Here are some to check out:
- The Leather Bench on Main Street offers a wide variety of hide goods.
- Antiquers should find something at Schueler Antiques on High Street.
- For gifts, try the Maine Gathering on 8 Bay View Street or Once a Tree on 31 Main Street.
- The more ambitious may want to hike up nearby 800′ Mount Battie or 1,385′ Mount Megunticook in Camden Hills State Park, both offering stunning views of Penobscot Bay.
- Camden Harbor Park & Amphitheatre (207-236-3440). Testaments to the creativity of 2 of the most important landscape architects in American history are the Camden Harbor Park and the Camden Amphitheater. Designed in 1931 by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of the renowned Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Central Park in New York City and Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Camden Harbor Park’s gentle hillside slopes were skillfully landscaped and sculpted to provide the best views of Camden Harbor. The Amphitheater, adjacent to Camden Harbor Park, was formed through the artful hands of Fletcher Steele, a landscape architect whose elegant masterpieces include many famous private estates across the country. The parks have hosted countless picnics, craft fairs, weddings, concerts, family strolls, festivals, theater productions, graduations and have served, most notably, as the background setting for the 1957 Hollywood movie, Peyton Place.
- Breakwater Kayak (207) 596-6895: Scenic kayak tours of the Maine coast.
- Water Walker Sea Kayaks (207) 338-6424: Coastal kayak tours.
- Maine Sport Outfitters (888) 236-8797: Kayak rental and tours.
Schooners & Windjammers:
- There are currently 10 windjammers and schooners working out of Camden, offering trips from a few hours to a week. The vessels range in size from 65′ to 95′ and take up to 31 passengers. Rockport and Rockland also have significant fleets. For an information packet and a video, contact the Maine Windjammer Association or call (800-807-9463). For additional information, call the Penboscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce at (800-223-5459) and leave your name and address to get a brochure, or call (207-236-4404) to talk to a chamber representative.
Eating ashore in Camden ranges from ice cream, pizza and hotdog stands on the streets to upscale American and foreign cuisine of every description. Here are a few eateries to sample:
- Enjoy fine European-style dining in a wonderful setting at Natalie’s in the Camden Harbour Inn, a short walk from the water (207-236-4200).
- For great seafood, sandwiches and more on the harbor, head for the Waterfront Testaurant on Bayview (207-236-3747).
- For a good sandwich or wrap, try the Camden Deli, also on Main Street (207-236-8343).
- Camden Harbour Inn (207) 236-4200: Comfortable, upscale, European-style accommodations with excellent service and a friendly, attentive staff. Great food, too, and views of downtown and Mt. Battie. Highly rated.
- Lord Camden Inn (800) 336-4325: One of Maine’s best moderately upscale hotels.
- Camden Windward House (877) 492-9656: Cozy B&B on High Street.
- For sorting through the many overnight options, call Camden Accommodations, (207) 236-6090.
- Penboscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce (207) 236-4404. Also, a visitor’s center is located at the Camden public dock.