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Camden, Maine - the quintessential seaside town

Camden, a Mid-Coast harbor town of around 5,000 and self-claimed, "Jewel of the Coast" is in my opinion, worthy of such a moniker. This quiet stretch of coast along Penobscot Bay, where the mountains kiss the sea, is quite possibly Maine's prettiest coastal village.

The trek from Vinalhaven to Lyman-Morse Shipyard in Camden was to be about an hour, but after three hours (checking our waypoints numerous times along the way) we pulled into the marina with the sign reading, Lyman-Morse, Thomaston! I Suzzanne, being the navigator of this boat, set our waypoints to the wrong shipyard. And, not expecting us, they were locked down tight. UGH!

We reset our navigation to the correct coordinates (Tad double-checking Suzzanne's work - and rightfully so) and set back out, arriving a few hours later to a beautiful harbor lined with quaint seaside homes and hundreds of boats. Yeah!

A bit of history

Settlers arrived in Camden around 1768, at which time it was known as Cambden Plantation and unofficially known as Megunticook, a Native American name meaning “big mountain harbor”. By 1792 Camden's notoriety was for its boat building, boasting the first-ever six-masted Schooner. It was the Revolutionary War center for the Penobscot Bay area and built and repaired vessels for the War of 1812.  With a booming population of 331, the townspeople decided they needed a town government to build roads, schools, bridges, etc. They sent a petition to the General Court of Massachusetts to incorporate "Camden" as part Boston (this was prior to statehood in 1820, and the District of Maine was a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.) The original act, complete with signatures of Samuel Philips and John Hancock is on display at the Camden Town Office. How cool is that!

With its lakes, rivers, harbor, and mountains, Camden went from a manufacturing town to a vacation hotspot as early as 1857. The Alden family began Camden Anchor Works, the largest such plant in the country. Their anchors were famous and traveled on stately ships that sailed all over the world. 

Although Camden today, is known as a vacation destination the boat building industry is still very much alive (we stayed at the main boatyard, Lyman-Morse) and you can see lobstermen and fishermen heading out to sea in the early mornings.

The Town

The walk from the Lyman-Morse Boat Yard into town takes you through meandering streets and a lush park that overlooks the marina. The park with the Soldiers Monument, erected in 1899 standing guard and a grassy hill with memorial benches overlooking the harbor drops you on to the the town's main street. You can easily spend a full day exploring the wonderful quality shops, bookstores, and eateries around every corner.

The Camden Library, built in 1854 sits next to the park and is known as the anchor to the community. It is a beautiful brick structure with its own amphitheater. The coolest part is the surprise underground entrance from the park!

The vibrant white spire that leads you into the harbor lies in the center of town and belongs to the Chestnut Street Baptist Church, built in 1808. Lyman-Morse rebuilt the steeple in 2018 and it is stunning!

Along the way, we also fell upon a construction site (yep, Tad spotted it from our boat!) of a boathouse restoration. The American Boathouse, built in 1904 is one of the oldest, if not the oldest boathouse in the country. The picturesque historical landmark recalls a departed era of a playground for the very rich in the early 1900s. A second renovation (the first in 1981) will restore the boathouse to the precise standards found in 1904.

Because it was a hardhat area and I'm a rule follower who didn't bring her hardhat with her on this trip, I peeked through the fence and took a few pictures!

Photos below: Picture of the 1904 boathouse and the current construction site.

A picturesque walk from the downtown, we enjoyed dinner at Natalie's Restaurant in the Camden Harbour Inn, established in 1874. The black and white stately inn was beautifully accented with velvety red rose color. The modern New England cuisine was mirrored by the excellent service and ambiance.

~Natalies Restaurant 83 Bayview Street Camden, Maine, 04843 (207) 236-7008

If you ever get the chance to visit Camden, whether by boat or car, I say go! There are many B&B's and Inns, and its said to be equally charming in the winter.

Marina Info:

A full-service marina offering 37 slips up to 55 ft., 1500 feet of dockage, 39 moorings and inner harbor floats.

Fuel: Gas and diesel - great prices and very busy. You can contact the fuel dock at 207-236-7108 or hail them on VHF Channel 71 for timing

Power: 110v/30A and 220v/50A

Pump out: yes, complimentary

Fresh Water: yes, complimentary

Wifi: Yes, and reasonably good

Other amenities:

Courtesy Car, Launch Service, Customer Lounge Showers, Wi-Fi, Trash disposal/recycling

Special Note: Being a well known boatyard for very expensive mega-yachts, the repair service was top quality. Travis and Mike were both amazing at taking care of our boating needs. They also have a canvas shop, outboard service dept., and ship store.

Useful Numbers:

Harbor Master: 207-236-7969


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