Betselma still being overhauled

Another vessel joins Camden daysail fleet

By Stephanie Grinnell | Dec 23, 2013
Photo by: Dwight Collins The Owl can carry up to six passengers and will begin four-hour trips in 2014 following select board approval of its use of the town-owned daysailer float.

Camden — For many years, there have been five vessels offering short one- and two-hour daysails but next summer, following a Dec. 17 approval of the Harbor Committee and Selectmen, another will join the fleet.

The Owl, owned by Olad owner and Capt. Aaron Lincoln will offer longer trips of four hours as well as a three-hour sunset cruise from the town-owned daysail float, Lincoln said.

Both the Harbor Committee and Selectmen spent a fair amount of time discussing the merits of allowing another vessel access to the town-owned daysail float, citing potential scheduling conflicts. However, Gene McKeever, chairman of the Harbor Committee, noted up to seven vessels are allowed under town ordinance. Another factor in the decision was the admission by Betselma owner Alec Brainerd that she will not be put in the water this year and his application for use of the daysail float was purely a placeholder, as applications from "current vessels" are given priority.

Betselma is as much a part of Camden as the docks,” Brainerd said, noting the history of the vessel, which was built in 1944 and run out of Camden Harbor each year since. “[She] needs another year of work but I don't want to lose the preference for current vessels.”

He said Betselma is currently being stored outside the shop but work will begin in the spring.

“She won't run this year,” Brainerd said.

Selectmen questioned Harbormaster Steve Pixley as to scheduling and he confirmed the schedule will work with all six vessels, provided the Owl makes longer trips. The seventh available spot authorized at the daysailer float would have to be limited to day-long trips, Pixley noted.

“If someone came in and said they want to do one-hour trips, it would cause problems,” he said, adding owners of the vessels have continued to be flexible in scheduling.

Pixley noted there is a 10-minute rule at Steamboat Landing's float, which allows longer tours to pick up and drop off passengers, though in the past the town has frowned on having charters use the town float.

Lazy Jack II owner and Capt. Shawn O'Connor said the two-hour business model used by a number of daysailers “is viable in Camden” because often people passing through have a limited amount of time to spend on the water. Most captains also offer longer, private charters for those with more time, O'Connor said.

Selectman John French suggested all six vessels should be approved, in part to allow Pixley an opportunity to see if a schedule with six boats would work.

“It gives Steve [Pixley] all season to figure out the schedule,” French said.

Selectmen unanimously approved all six applications.

As as aside, French questioned allowing each daysailer operator a parking space on the public landing, an issue not included in the Harbor Committee's purview but a traditional allowance. He suggested looking at other options when additional changes to the public landing are considered; Selectman Leonard Lookner concurred.

“At some point, we should look at the parking spots,” he said.

Lincoln noted the original intent of allowing parking spots near the benches and ticket tables was to allow workers to quickly get under cover and preserve materials that would be ruined by rain.

Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

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Stephanie Grinnell
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
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Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.

Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.

Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.

Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.

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