CAMDEN — Capt. Ray Williamson of Maine Windjammer Cruises is not happy that the town is denying him use of a town-owned daysailer float.

“This is not the way business has been done on the waterfront in Camden all these years,” he said.

In October, the Select Board reduced the number of licensed daysailers from seven to six in the harbor and did not renew Williamson’s license for day cruises in his 1941 lobster boat, the Sally.

Town Manager Audra Caler said the issue is congestion in the inner harbor and noted there are more people interested in operating there than have licenses to do so. She said the Harbor Committee may be able to find another spot for him, perhaps at Steamboat Landing.

Williamson said he did not receive any notification from the town that this was going to be discussed in the public meeting. In addition, he said he talked to Harbor Master Steve Pixley the very day of the meeting and discussed the spot in question, but was still not notified.

During the public comment portion of the Jan. 18 Select Board meeting, Williamson brought this issue up again.

“He (Pixley) made it clear that the decision to revoke my privilege to operate Sally had already been made and he agreed with it,” Williamson said. “Decided by whom I thought? I was not aware that this had been brought before the select board in a public meeting as is required by the ordinance and of course it hadn’t. As manager of the harbor, I would expect he would have informed me that the recommendation to revoke my privilege was about to be brought before the board that very evening, but he didn’t.”

Williamson operates a fleet of vessels, most of them two-masted schooners, in Camden. He said finding crew has been a struggle during the past few years in part due to the COVID pandemic. He hopes to sell the schooners and retire.

He purchased the Sally, a 27-foot lobster boat built by the famed Hodgdon Brothers, and operates it for cruises on the harbor. For the most part, these cruises are about an hour long. His plan was to do this work during his retirement to maintain a connection to the water.

His daughter, a teacher, captained the boat off and on during the summer. Aside from that, he has not been able to run the Sally much during the past few seasons because crew shortages have kept him busy with his other vessels.

He said there was some pressure for him to relinquish his spot on the float from other sailors looking to use the space.

The town has a “use it or lose it” policy, the captain has been told.

Williamson, however, argues nothing in writing in his agreements with the towns outlines this “use it or lose it” policy.

He said he has come to meetings to speak during public comment, he has contacted the Select Board Chair Robert Falciani and Caler. He has also written to town officials in an attempt to have the issue reconsidered.

Caler said there were in past years only five daysailers. That was increased at one point to seven in an effort to accommodate more who wanted to do business, but that may have been too many. She said there are deadlines outlined in the ordinance for dealing with these licensing issues and it may be too late to revisit them for this particular berth. However, another location for the Sally to do business may be found.

“I’m frustrated,” Williamson said. “The ball has been in the town’s court for three months. It just didn’t happen the way it should have.”

“We just need to be as fair as we can,” Caler said.

In addition to the Sally, Williamson owns the two-masted schooner Grace Bailey, which is 123 feet long and built in 1882. He also owns the two-masted Mercantile, which is 115 feet, built in 1916, and the Swift, at 75 feet, which was built in 1983. He said the Swift is a hermaphrodite brig, two-masted and square-rigged, which was previously privately used and he is prepping for new work as a windjammer. His other two-masted schooner is Mistress at 62 feet, built in the 1960s.

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