A mountain to climb in Camden

Phil & Nikki Hoskins
Thu 15 Jul 2010 14:19
Having been lured outside Pulpit harbour the fog closed in once again and we were back to sounding the auto foghorn and keeping an eye on the radar as the visibility closed to less than 200 metres.  We aimed for a buoy 4 miles away which marks a shoal at the end of some small islands before making a new course for Camden another 4 miles distant. This all went rather well as we were picking up the red approach buoys into Camden easily on the radar together with the odd boat underway. However, once we arrived in the outer harbour we couldn't see any of the shoreline with just the shapes of surrounding boats on moorings to go by. We picked up the first available mooring but the 'Admiral' lost her grip and wasn't able to hold on to the pick-up line and it disappeared from sight somewhere under the boat. Not willing to engage either engine in drive in case we caught the line round the prop we just waited for something, anything to reappear from beneath the boat so we could move away and try another buoy pickup. The second one worked and we then radioed Wayfarer Marine who control most of the harbour moorings to let them know which buoy we were occupying. Arriving somewhere in the dark is disorientating enough but in thick fog it's much worse. Engines off and a cup of tea was the order of the day.
When the fog did eventually clear we were rewarded with the sight of Camden harbour which could be anywhere on the Scottish west coast or maybe in  the West Country. It's a very pretty place with Mount Battie as a backdrop. It's not actually a mountain though - just a very steep hill. The harbour is mostly occupied by Wayfarer Marine on one side and lots of restaurants and bars the other making for a fantastic blend of nautical goings on watched by holiday makers and day trippers. Windjammers regularly come and go taking fare paying visitors on trips out into Penobscot Bay.
We're out there in the fog somewhere.....        The inner harbour - fog beyond.......               Windjammers...................
Being a fair way out on number 54 buoy the free launch service from Wayfarer was very efficient - they are at your boat almost before you have called them on the VHF. All the staff are friendly and welcoming and we even enjoyed a discount as we are Ocean Cruising Club members. If that sounds like an advertisement then maybe it is.
Day one was laundry and maintenance - not much fun but it was good to have a choice of fresh underpants once more. Skip had to deal with the remaining mess in the engine compartment of clearing a blocked holding tank pipe on the way from Cape Cod so that was a good job done. To celebrate the achievement of two none too pleasant chores we went out to try some Maine lobsters having heard so much about them. But first we enjoyed some local mussels in white wine and garlic whilst they fished our lobsters from the tank. We had the choice from just 1 Ib all the way through to 4 lb sizes. If the only two one pounders in the tank thought their luck was in then they were mistaken as we erred on the side of economy what with having had a bowl full of muscles. Two bright red juvenile lobsters in short trousers arrived on plates with all the required tools and we tucked in but with the light failing rapidly on the exterior deck of the restaurant we could have done with head torches or arc lights to see what we were eating. Still, despite their small size we staggered out of the restaurant completely stuffed! A good choice we both agreed.
Taxi......                                                                      Now where do we start?                                         Skip gets to grips with his one pounder!
Day two we climbed Mount Battie to gain the best view over Camden possible. We just hoped the fog would hold off as climbing up a steep hill through the fog and mist would be pretty stupid not to mention possibly dangerous. But the day was perfect as we set off. The pilot mentioned it would be a bit of a scrabble up the rocks which proved an understatement as we found ourselves attacking granite at a steep angle and not exactly dressed in the right attire i.e hiking boots! We probably sounded like two old steam trains huffing and puffing our way up the rocky path which was marked with daubs of blue paint on various rocks and trees to show the way. Whenever we thought we were getting near the summit the trail continued onwards and upwards. This was no climb for the feint hearted - or weak-hearted come to that but we persevered as the view became more glorious the further we went (we convinced ourselves).
Mount Battie (gulp!)...........                                  Admiral disappearing at the summit.......        Ajaya is down there........
At the top, rather like climbing Snowden it was obvious that there was also an alternative route up as numerous people were picnicking and enjoying the views dressed in flip-flops, sandals and Crocs and of a stature quite obviously not up to such a stringent activity as ascending a granite-strewn trail. Maybe 30 years ago perhaps but not now.  We stayed at the top for an hour just soaking up the views across Penobscot Bay before making our way slowly back down the route we had come, although if somebody had offered a lift we may have just accepted!
All too much for the guy in the bushes...       Granite & more.....                                                   very steep granite.................
Back in Camden we treated ourselves to ice creams which we ate by a stream that flows through town containing the noisiest ducks we'd ever heard. Then a small grocery shop for some necessities before returning back onboard to incinerate a couple of Bluefish fillets we had in the freezer. The fog even held off all evening meaning we didn't need the GPS to find the barbecue on the aft rail.
Ice cream...........                                                       Ducks with attitude.........                                          A "duck feeding station"........
It's foggy again but with just enough visibility to attempt an exit of Camden we'll head to Islesboro for a change of scenery.