Sunday, August 21, 2011

Camden, Maine

While planning this trip we talked to several friends who make regular trips to Maine or are actually from Maine and asked for their “must sees.”  A number of them recommended Camden, Maine as a quaint little town with lots to see and do.  Camden has a lovely little Main Street shopping area with shops filled with local artisans and restaurants.  There is also a harbor with a wharf full of schooners offering all kinds of day sails and cruises.  We decided to head down and check it out a few days ago, and Camden didn’t disappoint!

We checked on the internet and decided to take the 1 p.m. Lobster Fishing and Wildlife Encounter aboard the Lively Lady Too.  Unfortunately, Camden’s Harbor was completely fogged in and all the morning excursions had been cancelled.  As the fog was not lifting, the 1 p.m. excursion had to be cancelled as well.  We rescheduled for the 3:15 trip and headed out to explore Camden.  Since we were a bit hungry our first stop was the Bayview Restaurant, where the husband and I ordered and shared a lobster roll: 

It was delicious!!  A little bit of buttery, creamy lobster goodness on a lightly toasted roll.  Yum…these may just be my new favorite thing to eat.  We wandered around town, did a bit of window shopping, and then headed back down to the wharf.  It must have been our lucky day, because by mid afternoon the fog had moved out and we were good to go!

The Lively Lady Too is piloted by a salty Maine lobsterman named Captain Philbrick, a fascinating guy with extensive knowledge of the surrounding coastline and sea life.  He’s also a wonderful story teller with about a million fish tales and anecdotes to share along the way.  Here he is piloting his ship. 

We headed out of the harbor and within 10 minutes he was pulling up the first lobster trap.  Captain Philbrick took the time to explain what the different colors on the buoys mean (nothing, really.  Each fisherman chooses their own), what each of the tags on the trap mean (they are the fishing and trap licenses for the fisherman, color coded for each year) and how the traps work (lobsters simply are not very bright.  They follow the bait in, then forget how they got there and are unable to get back out).  He explained the difference between soft shelled and hard shelled lobsters (none, really, but only hard shelled lobsters can be shipped) and what makes a legal lobster.  There are 4 characteristics of a legal lobster: The distance from the eye socket to the end of the body must be greater than 3 inches and less than 5 inches.  Female lobsters carrying eggs may not be kept.  Notched female lobsters must also be put back.  A lobsterman must cut a small notch in the back right fin of any female lobster carrying eggs before putting her back in the water.  It will take 2 years for the notch to grow out and during that time any lobsterman who catches her must put her back.  Captain Philbrick caught 3 lobsters in the 2 traps he pulled up, and 2 of them were legal.  One was too big, but he returned all of them to the ocean at the end of our trip.  The highlight was when he passed them around for the kids to hold!

Captain Philbrick also took us out to an island with a very rocky shoreline which is home to a pretty sizeable colony of harbor seals.  They blend in very well with the rocks, and a few of them were in the water swimming.  I think I’ll be looking for a better camera before next summer, as they are hard to see in the pictures I took.

Next we headed over to another island with a bald eagle nest.  It must have been our lucky day because as we were rounding the tip of the island the eaglet soared out overhead!  What a beautiful bird!  He was all dark brown as he won’t grow white feathers until he’s an adult, but with a 7 foot wingspan was an impressive sight soaring around that island.  All through the whole trip Captain Philbrick shared his stories and knowledge and answered questions and before we knew it a 2 hour tour had turned into 3.  And it was worth every penny!       

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