On the Water in Maine
Waves crashing against a shore. The buoyancy of floating. The rush of a river pouring over rocks — it’s no wonder we’re drawn to the water. Scientific evidence proves that water, just the sound and the movement of it, relaxes us. And, the best way to relax and reconnect in Maine this summer is to get on a boat.
Discover Boating, the world’s largest online guide to recreational boating, is tapping in to research conducted by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist and author of Blue Mind, to promote the health benefits of boating. “We now know, thanks to science, that the mere sight and sound of water promotes wellness by lowering cortisol, increasing serotonin, and inducing relaxation,” said Dr. Nichols. “It only makes sense that being on a boat is one of the best ways to access the wellness benefits of the water.”
Luckily it’s easy to do that in Maine. Our state is filled with pristine lakes and rivers as well as 3,478 miles of coastline to explore. Our blue waters beckon you to grab a boat — any boat —and experience the happiness that comes from being out on the water.
Nearly 40 percent of visitors to Maine in the summer of 2018 took part in water activities, according to research by the Maine Office of Tourism. Most of those visitors were from other New England states, traveling with their kids.
“If you’re in Maine and you’re not out on the water, you’re missing out on what makes Maine unique,” said Tracy Coughlin, marketing director for Freedom Boat Club, Yarmouth Boat Yard, and Moose Landing Marina. The Freedom Boat Club of Maine is helping more families discover recreational boating. Their rentals are moored in Portland, Yarmouth, and Naples. Steve Arnold, owner of the Freedom Boat Club franchise and the two marinas, started the program last year out of the Yarmouth Boat Yard. The premise is so popular they doubled their projected membership last year from 30 to 60.
Here’s how the Freedom Boat Club works. You sign up to become a member, pay a monthly fee, and get unlimited access to their 22- to 24-foot Sea Fox boats moored in southern Maine. Members also enjoy access to other Freedom Boat Clubs across the country. “It’s a great way for people to try out the boating lifestyle without making a huge investment in their own equipment,” Coughlin said. Not only does Freedom Boat Club of Maine offer beautiful boats and top-notch service, they also train you how to safely use and maneuver the boats. “Boat Clubs are changing the way people vacation; it’s a brand new way of boating in Maine,” Coughlin added.
Boating provides the means to get outside of daily routines, allowing our brains to reset, think beyond our current circumstances, and connect to nature. Here are more benefits to boating:
Boating resets our brain. We work hard and getting out from behind our desks gives our brains (and our bodies) a change of pace. Boating is a fun, active activity that you can do by yourself or with a group. Being on the water is as different from your cubicle as it gets.
Boating is meditative. The ebb and flow of the water is relaxing. Bobbing along in a boat, breathing in fresh air, helps connect you to nature.
Boating is playful. Watersports are a source of play, which trigger the body’s natural feel-good chemicals.
Maine is filled with opportunities to get on the water. Whether you’re looking to explore one of our beautiful bays on the Atlantic or go tubing around one of the vast many inland lakes, boating in Maine is a fun-filled activity all summer long. Here are some of our favorite places to take your motorboat this summer:
Moosehead Lake is the largest lake in Maine and one of the state’s crown jewels. The lake is approximately 40 miles by 10 miles and is home to more than 80 islands. You may even see a moose hanging out in one of the quiet coves of this massive, rural lake. There are public boat launches in Greenville, Rockwood, and Seboomook. If you don’t have your own motorboat, you can rent one at Wilson’s on Moosehead, The Birches Resort, or Wilson Pond Camps.
This southern Maine lake is the second largest lake in the state after Moosehead. It’s the deepest lake in all of New England, making it a favorite with motorboating enthusiasts. Thanks to its location, (just 30 minutes from Portland) fishing opportunities and crystal clear water, make it a consistent draw for visitors from across New England. There are many marinas along the lake where you can fuel up, rent a boat, or purchase a boat for your own family fun. If you’re heading to Sebago Lake, check out Sebago Lake Marina, Long Beach Marina, Kettle Cove Marina, Richardson’s Boat Yard, Panther Run Marina, and Port Harbor Marine.
A popular inlet of the Gulf of Maine on the southern coast, Casco Bay is certainly a working waterfront. It’s also a great spot for exploring the islands that make the bay a unique setting for exploration. Motor your boat out of Four Points Marina and start island hopping. Explore the sandy beaches of Long Island or fine dining on Chebeague Island, Peaks Island, or Great Diamond Island. Bring along your camera and binoculars to spot seals and sea birds.
If pristine and serene are two adjectives that appeal to you, head north from Augusta and spend some time on the water in Maine’s Belgrade Lakes Region. You’ll want to pack your fishing pole for this trip. The Belgrade Lakes are a chain of seven freshwater lakes that range in size from 500 acres to more than 8,000 acres. Each of these lakes has a public boat launch and excellent fishing (just be sure you have the proper license). Visit the Belgrade Lakes Region Business Group to find local businesses that will make your boating trip to this region a memorable one.
Home to 13 lakes — and some of the most beautiful, relaxing views you’ll see in the state of Maine — the Lincoln Lakes Region is a lovely spot for some boating fun. The downtown area is located right on the shores of Mattanawcook Pond. There are six public boat launches in Lincoln, giving you access to several lakes and the Penobscot River. You can also fish for brook trout, lake trout, landlocked salmon, white perch, pickerel, and smallmouth bass.
Ready to launch your watercraft? Check out the hundreds of public boat launch sites on the Maine.gov website and enjoy the beauty of Maine from the cockpit this summer.
— Text: Melanie Brooks. Melanie has had the pleasure of writing and photographing her home state of Maine for the past 12 years. You can find her work at www.melanie-brooks.com.