A plan to call on daysailer and windjammer owners to review decades of old license and ordinance rules has evolved since June 19, after a tied Select Board vote failed to undo a change they made on May 1 to increase windjammer day-sails from three to 15 days each season.

On June 19, Select Board members Taylor Benzie and Alison McKellar voted to rescind the license change, in order to allow for more time for discussion among the commercial boat owners. Board members Bob Falciani and Marc Ratner voted against undoing the change. Board member Jenna Lookner was absent.

Benzie was not a member of the Select Board on May 1, when the board voted to approve a request to change the windjammer license presented by Harbormaster Steve Pixley and long-time windjammer owner, Ray Williamson.

Since May 1, nearly all of the day-sail and windjammer owners who sail from Camden Harbor have opposed the change to allow 15 windjammer day-sails.

Six daysailer owners and six windjammers owners signed letters to town officials requesting the May 1 vote be rescinded. The letters faulted the Select Board for disregarding the harbor ordinance and procedures for vetting and changing ordinances, and for not informing the windjammer owners that their licenses had changed.

Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell talked about a process going forward on June 25, that will involve all the stakeholders, and mirrors the standard process for proposing changes to town ordinances

The boat owners have been asked to get together and come up with their recommendations, she said. She believes their recommendations will go to the Harbor Committee. That committee would review the boat owners' recommendations, come up with ordinance amendments, and explain how those amendments would change the license agreements for both windjammers and daysailers. Once the Harbor Committee recommendation is developed, it would be presented to the Select Board for further work, and then to public hearing, so that it can be placed on a town meeting warrant.

Caler-Bell expects this will all take time, given the fact that the commercial day-sail and windjammer owners are not available during the sailing season. She believes there is a lot of work ahead, and that a November vote is not a realistic time frame.

On June 25, Harbormaster Steve Pixley said he "wasn't expecting opposition to the Select Board's new ideology that they want to open up the industry a little bit, and take some of the historical restrictions off their historical landmarks." He pointed out that one of the goals stated in Camden's Comprehensive Plan is to create as many boating options for the public as possible.

The Select Board liked Williamson's proposal to offer a long day-sail with a hot meal, and offer visitors "another option to experience this amazing coast," he said. If anything was a surprise to Pixley it was how quickly the board voted on the idea. He assumed it would be discussed over time the way most things are. He said that while the windjammer license change was on the board's agenda, in the past commercial boat owners would have been alerted to the upcoming discussion. He understands this did not happen, and how they feel they were left out of the discussion.

The windjammer agreements and harbor ordinances are decades old, Pixley said, and both control how parts of the businesses operate. One stipulates windjammers cruises must be a minimum of three days, while the other grants three-day-sails as charters for occasions such as weddings.

At the June 19 Select Board meeting day-sail and windjammer owners, and Harbor Committee and board members shared their views.

Richard Stetson, Harbor Committee chairman, asked board members "to wind the clock back and do this differently." He said the immediate problem is the 15 day-sails now allowed to windjammers.

Aaron Lincoln, owner of daysailers Olad and Cutter Owl, said he has been in the business for 19 years. "We have survived because we follow a process and its super clear," he said. He spoke about how daysailers and windjammers have been able to thrive in Camden, and how boat mortgages and bank agreements are based on the licenses. Lincoln said the type of discussion occurring at the June 19 would normally occur during the off-season, saying he had just worked for 21 days straight.

Ramiro De Acevedo Ramos, owner of daysailer Surprise, with his wife, Nicole, said they have operated their business for five years in Camden Harbor. He has been sailing professionally from the harbor for 20 years. He referred to a change to the daysailer license two years ago that allowed owners to sell day-sail tickets at tables on the Public Landing for a second boat, which is not berthed at town-owned daysailer floats. He described the process prior to Select Board approval of that change as involving at least five Harbor Committee meetings, and responding to about a hundred questions.

"May 1 was not the same process I went through. It was not fair, not accurate," he said. "We feel the system was not correct."

Acevedo Ramos also wants to help the windjammers remain a healthy business, but through the correct process. "People come from all over the world to sail them. That's why we are here."

Barry King who owns the windjammer Mary Day with his wife said he found out about the license change "after the fact." He was not contacted by any town official, to inform him of the change to the license agreement. He wants an opportunity to review the change with the Harbor Committee, and said that for the boats at the head of the harbor, the Library Committee is involved as well. Any change in the windjammer license has to reflect the Harbor Ordinances, he said.

King is concerned about increasing day-sails for windjammers from a total of 18 to 90.

Jeff Beck, owner of daysailer Heritage, was one of the six signers of the letter asking the board to rescind its May 1 decision. He registered his concerns as owner of one of two daysailers licensed to join the fleet within the past two years, while adding he is not opposed to helping Williamson and other windjammer owners increase their business.

Harbor Committee member Ben Ellison said "The stakeholders have every right to be aggrieved." He called the lead-up to the May 1 vote "poorly coordinated." Ellison, who has been on the Harbor Committee for 20 years, said "There was a moment in March when I thought this [expanding windjammer day-sails] was a good idea." But he admits he has never read the windjammer license, and was unaware of the language in the license and the intent that day-sails be limited to three charters and not advertised.

Williamson spoke after listening to the opposition to his plans. He and his wife have been in the windjammer business in Camden since 1986. At the time, there were two daysailers in the harbor. Back then, all of the windjammers offered six-day cruises, and they all departed from the harbor on the same day. Now there are 10 daysailer boats, and others that don't advertise publicly, he said. That business has grown exponentially.

"Today, only 17 percent of the trips are six-days," he said. "If we don't change with the times, we will be dinosaurs. We will be extinct."

He brought the discussion back around to the request by Acevedo Ramos to allow daysailer owners to advertise a second boat, not berthed at the town-owned floats. He pointed out this potentially doubled the number of daysailers in Camden Harbor. At that time, he bought a daysailer. While that boat saw an increase in business, some of his windjammers remained in Camden Harbor, while crew still needed to be paid. This led to his idea of using one of the windjammers for a unique type of day-sail.

He pointed to the town's Comprehensive Plan, which calls for promoting as much commercial activity in the harbor as possible, and for diverse activities. He said it was up to the Select Board to do what is in the best interest of Camden.

Ratner said he was "concerned we were adding too much capacity" when the board voted to change the daysailer license two years ago. He asked Williamson if he had committed to any four-hour day-sails, and if he would be harmed if the May 1 vote was rescinded.

Williamson confirmed that he had interest in the new cruises, but he had not taken any money yet.

Ratner asked if all of the boat owners could come together and compromise on a plan "that works for everyone" and present it to the Harbor Committee.

Falciani said he recognized there were inconsistencies in the ordinances that needed work. Based on the May 1 vote, all of the windjammers have the option of changing their licenses with the town to offer 15 day-sails, he explained.

McKellar asked Stetson to confirm her understanding that the day-sail and windjammer owners were against the change and wanted the board's May 1 vote rescinded. Stetson confirmed this is the case. She proposed that the vote be rescinded, and that the Select Board direct the Harbor Committee to propose changes and suggestions in the near future.

McKellar and Benzie voted to rescind the May 1 Select Board vote that changed the windjammer license to increase the number of allowed day-sails from three to 15. Falciani and Ratner voted against rescinding. Falciani declared that without the ability to break the tie, "the motion is dead," and moved the meeting on to the next agenda item.