Boothbay Harbor is one of the best harbors on the Maine coast. Not only is it large and well protected, it is easy to enter under all conditions. Here are all the services a yachtsman might need and then some. If you are coasting west or east, it is very convenient, less than 5 miles off the direct route.
The harbor bustles with boats of every description and has the air of a city of the sea. Like Kennebunkport, the town is crowded and touristy, but festive. Shops and restaurants jam the streets, and the calendar is filled with summer activities.
The town’s annual Windjammer Days festivalis a wonderful spectacle, but it is popular. Reserve your berth or mooring well ahead of time.
Coming from the west, round green bell “1C”off Southport Island, leaving the Cuckholds (two little bare islets) to port. The Cuckholds Light, a good landfall, is a distinctive white octagonal tower 48 feet high on a dwelling with a foghorn and radio beacon.
Pass either side of high Squirrel Island, observing red lighted buoy “4” if you are to the west. Head for red lighted buoy “8” off Tumbler Island, leaving Burnt Island, with a lighthouse and a MRASS horn, to port. Don’t be tempted to go inside Tumbler Island. Keep it to starboard. Leave green lighted buoy “9” to port at McFarland Island and enter the inner harbor.
Coming from the east, find red-and-white bell “HL” (43° 48.39’N069° 34.79’W) at the beginning of Fisherman Island Passage, sailing north of Hypocrites, Fisherman Island, and small, grassy Ram Island with its lighthouse and foghorn. Keep the three nuns marking the ledges to the south of Linekin Neck to starboard and turn northward. Leave high Squirrel Island to port and enter as described above.
In fog, keep your radio on to listen for securité calls—some whale-watching boats waste little time getting to the feeding grounds, even when the visibility is zero.
Because Boothbay Harbor is one of the busiest boating centers on the coast, anchoring is prohibited everywhere in the harbor except in exposed Mill Cove, on the backside of the town, north of Hodgdon Marina.
There are plenty of moorings or berths however (see sketch map). Head to the inner harbor if you want to be close to town or head west of McFarland Point if you want a bit more calm.
For the Boat
Inner Harbor, Western Side.
Tugboat Inn Marina (Ch. 09; 207-633-4434; tugboatinn.com). The Tugboat Inn is the first facility on your left as you enter the inner harbor. Its many moorings lie just south of Pier 8, with bright polyball floats marked “TBI.” The marina is wonderful about letting you use them temporarily, even if they are reserved by somebody else for the night. Or you can reserve them yourself throughout the year (cancellations are allowed up to 9am the day you are due to arrive). The marina also provides a large amount of dockage, which is also reservable. The docks can accommodate boats to 110 feet, with 12 feet of water at the outer floats. Electricity, water, ice, and pump-outs are available, but no fuel. Ashore, they have very pleasant coin-operated showers, a laundromat, Fa seafood restaurant, and lounge and deck overlooking the marina.
Down East Yacht Club operates from the northern end of the Tugboat Inn Marina. Their slips and moorings, however, are for club members only.
Public Landing (Harbormaster Nicholas Upham: Ch. 09, 16; office: 207-633-3671; cell: 207-380-5635). The town floats lie just south of Fisherman’s Wharf Inn and Pier 6. They can accommodate boats of up to 50 feet in depths to around 10 feet, with a generous three-hour maximum tie-up.
Boothbay Harbor Pumpout Boat (Ch. 09; 207-380-9995). This mobile pump-out is operated by the town and can come to your boat anywhere in the harbor.
Boothbay Harbor Marina (Ch. 09; 207-633-6003; boothbayharbormarina.com). This full-service marina sits right next to the footbridge in town. There are several finger floats and transient dock space that can accommodate boats to 150 feet, with 16 feet of water along the outer floats. Electricity to 50 amps, cable, and water are available, and showers and a laundromat are in the building on the dock.
Inner Harbor, Eastern Side
Carousel Marina (Ch. 09; 207-633-2922). Carousel is a large, full-service marina at the southern end of the harbor, identifiable by a yellow-and-red fuel sign and gray buildings. The fuel dock has gas, diesel, pump-outs, ice, and water. Transient dockage and rental moorings are available. The mooring floats have yellow tops and green bottoms. A small ship’s store, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi, showers, and a sitting room with television are ashore, along with the Whale Tail restaurant.
Brown’s Wharf Marina (Ch. 09; 207-633-5440; brownswharfinn.com). Brown’s has 40 slips, with 8 to 20 feet alongside, and can handle boats to 165 feet. Three transient moorings are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Water, pump-outs, electricity, cable, Wi-Fi, ice, and showers are available, but no fuel. Their restaurant is right at the water’s edge.
Cap’n Fish’s Motel and Marina (Ch. 09; 207-633-6605). Cap’n Fish’s has several moorings and some dockage with water and electricity for transients. Reserve ahead. Breakfast is served in the restaurant.
Marine Supply, Inc. (207-633-0709). This small chandlery is located between the Rocktide Inn and Cap’n Fish’s, at 55 Atlantic Avenue.
Rocktide Motor Inn (207-633-4455). The northernmost floats on the east side of the inner harbor, next to the footbridge, are for the residents of Squirrel Island. The next floats to the south belong to the Boothbay Harbor Inn. The Rocktide Inn has the next floats further south, and they are available to anyone coming to Feat or stay at the inn. The outer floats have 12 feet of water at low. Reservations are recommended.
Boothbay Harbor Shipyard (Ch. 09, 68; 207-633-3171; boothbayharborshipyard.com) is recognizable by its yellow buildings and two enormous marine railways on the point west of the inner harbor. One of these is a 700-ton giant which regularly hauls huge windjammers, Coast Guard vessels, and replica ships. As Sample’s Shipyard, it has been around “since almost forever.” During World War II it built wooden minesweepers, and for a while it was leased by the builders of Steve Dashew’s Deerfoot yachts. It now specializes in large wooden-vessel repairs and new construction. A mechanic and diver are on site. The yard maintains 23 moorings. Ten are reserved for transients. They are quite exposed, but four of them are big enough to hold yachts to 100 feet.
Signal Point Marina (Ch. 09; 207-633-6920) is tucked behind a breakwater on the west side of McFarland Point at the southern end of Hodgdon Marina. Its slips are all rented seasonally.
Hodgdon Marina (Ch. 09; 207-633-7440, 632-5427; hodgdonmarina.com) is on the west side of McFarland Point, at the entrance to Mill Cove. Eight reservable moorings are lined up in the cove’s entrance. The marina floats and can berth boats to 250’ with power and water. The fuel dock has high-speed pumps for gas and diesel and pump-outs. The marina has heads, showers, laundry, and Wi-Fi ashore. Should you need repairs, Hodgdon Yachts has a large, full-service yard nearby on Southport Island.
West of McKown Point
Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club (Ch. 09; 207-633-5750). At the northwest side of the bay, opposite McKown Point, the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club has a low, white building over the water on pilings, with a BHYC sign, a dock, and floats. The club maintains a large number of moorings, but it is a good idea to reserve ahead for weekends during big events. Launch service is provided. The floats have 20 feet of water alongside and water and electricity, but no fuel. Overnight dockage is not permitted. Bring your dinghy in to the inner float.
The club has showers, ice, and laundry machines. Visiting yachtsmen are welcome to use the bar and restaurant if they wear jackets for the evening meals. There are also two tennis courts that visitors may use. The West Boothbay Harbor post office is next to the tennis courts.
Blake’s Boatyard (Ch. 09; 207-633-5040) is a small yard tucked down in the western corner of the bay, where there is the best protection in Boothbay Harbor. This is the place to be if the weather is threatening. Unfortunately, Blake’s is not a transient facility. They have water and electricity at their floats. The yard can haul most boats for all types of repairs, but they give priority to their seasonal customers. Their chandlery carries charts and hardware.
If you enter this cove, beware of a submerged rock off the eastern shore, shown on the chart inset shows as a 3-foot spot. It lies deceptively far from shore, surrounded by moorings.
For the Crew
Inner Harbor, Western Side
In this part of town, you are within a hundred yards of every kind of shop imaginable. Public restrooms are ashore by the town landing. A large Hannaford market and liquor store is in the shopping center north of town, .8 miles from the waterfront. Free trolley-buses leave from the Rocktide Inn and make a loop through town.
The Blue Moon Cafe (633-2220) serves eggs overlooking the harbor. Another breakfast and lunch favorite is Mama D’s (633-3464) at the head of the harbor on Union Street. Dinner options are plentiful from takeouts to oysterhouses to wood fired pizza. At the finer end of the spectrum, consider Ports of Italy (633-1011) on Commercial Street. Cruiser Sterling Blake votes this “hands down the best restaurant in town.”
Inner Harbor, Eastern Side
In addition to the restaurants at the east-side marinas, seafood is served at the Lobster Dock (633-7120) and takeout at the Boothbay Lobster Wharf (633-4900), where a sign reads : ”We are not responsible if seagulls steal your food.” For supplies and shops and additional dining of all kinds, walk across the footbridge into town, or take the dinghy to the public landing.
West of McKown Point
To get into town, call a cab or hitch a ride. One of the unique facilities serving Boothbay Harbor is St. Andrews Hospital (633-2121), which overlooks Mill Cove opposite Hodgdon Marina. They have a dock and a float, so you can practically dinghy to the emergency room.
Things to Do
Wandering around town, eating ice cream cones, and watching the tourists—these are the favorite occupations in Boothbay Harbor. Despite being a tourist mecca, Boothbay Harbor has some authentic Maine holdouts. Our favorites are Grover’s Hardware (633-2694) on Townsend Avenue, which opens at 7am, and the Boothbay Opera House (633-6855, boothbayoperahouse.com), which often features national music acts in an intimate setting straight out of the past.
A fun evening outing is to row across the harbor to the Boothbay Lobster Wharf, tie up at the float, and have Fa lobster or clam dinner outdoors overlooking the lobsterboats—good food at reasonable prices.
Maine’s Department of Marine Resources runs a little aquarium (633-9559) at the end of McKown Point near the western part of the harbor. Their displays show various fisheries, and you can reach into a “touch tank” full of live marine animals—if you dare.
From downtown, all sorts of excursions are available. Dayboats run trips up the Inside Passage through the Hell Gates and the Sasanoa River to Bath. If the current is running with any force, you may be glad you are in somebody else’s boat. Other trips circumnavigate Southport Island, tour nearby Burnt Island, or run out to Squirrel Island, historic Damariscove, or distant Monhegan.