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There are many great boating destinations in Maine, with craggy coastlines, inlets, rivers, and lots of other waters leading to a wide variety of boating-oriented cities and towns of all types. Whether you’re looking for the perfect lobster dinner or an insider’s look into Maine’s fascinating maritime past, Maine towns like Bath--and many more--have much to offer.

Bath is an ideal northeast boating destination that’s typical of why Maine lures so many boaters--including excellent marina facilities, varied activities and pursuits, and super seafood and other delectable dining. It all starts with the Maine Maritime Museum.

Located on the banks of the Kennebec River and just south of Bath Iron Works (home of “The World’s Greatest Shipbuilders”), the Maine Maritime Museum welcomes more than 65,000 visitors annually--and many of them are boaters! Founded in 1962, the museum collects, preserves, and interprets materials relating to the maritime history of the state. Open daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days), Maine’s boating heritage is told through gallery exhibits, an historic shipyard, educational programs, and narrated boat cruises to points of historic interest and natural beauty.

“The Maine Maritime Museum offers a myriad of opportunities to relive Maine’s maritime past,” says executive director Tom Wilcox. “Whether they’re interested in maritime art, wooden vessels, historic buildings on the Kennebec River waterfront, or you’d just like to experience the challenges of life at sea, boaters love this museum.”

Highlights of a museum visit might include: thousands of historic boating artifacts; an excellent museum store; lunch in Long Reach Hall, with stunning post-and-beam construction and views of the Kennebec River; and, outside, historic Percy & Small Shipyard, where many large wooden sailing schooners were built (including the largest wooden vessel in the world--the six-masted schooner, Wyoming).

Boaters will love that they can dock or take a mooring directly outside the museum! In addition, they have a “Visiting Yachtsman’s Building” that includes two spacious bathrooms with showers, as well as a washer and dryer.

Downtown Bath (actually uptown from the museum) is a short trolley ride or 1 1/4-mile walk away, with a small river town feel that many boaters appreciate (there’s also a town dock for short-term visits, along with a nearby grocery store for provisioning). Recently named one of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2005 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (the National Trust’s president called it “a jewel hidden in plain sight”), Bath features locally-owned and -operated shops and restaurants housed in 19th century brick buildings, an excellent library with Internet access (www.patten.lib.me.us), and the Chocolate Church Arts Center (performing and visual arts; www.chocolatechurch.com).

Kennebec Tavern and Marina (207-442-9636) offers full services to boaters, as well as New England-style seafood, steaks, and company. The marina is also the hub for water-oriented activities that can include fishing, history and nature tours, and much more. BFC Marine (207-443-3022) is another option for fuel or mechanical issues. There are also two boat ramps for those trailering their boat to the area.

Anytime is a great time to visit Bath, but Bath Heritage Days provides the perfect summer outing. This year’s 33rd version is July 1-4 and has the theme of “Spirit of the Sea,” with barbecue meals, Maine’s second oldest triathlon, the state’s largest parade, a carnival, and much more!

One of the beauties of Bath’s mid-coast location is that boaters can easily reach other fascinating parts of the state. Nearby, the possibilities include: a trip up the scenic Kennebec to Hallowell or Augusta; a trip down the Sasanoa into Boothbay Harbor; outings to two of Maine’s few, but beautiful, sand beaches (Reid State Park and Popham State Park); or a visit by boat to Wiscasset (207-882-8800; www.wiscasset-me.gov), “Maine’s Prettiest Village.” In inclement weather, Wiscasset can also reached by courtesy car from Georgetown’s Robinhood Marine Center (800-255-5206 or 207-371-2343; www.robinhoodmarinecenter.com), which is an interesting boater destination in its own right.

Further afield, the possibilities are almost as countless as the state’s miles of craggy coastline. Potential destinations for boaters all along the Maine coast might include: Portland (www.visitportland.com); Camden/Rockport (www.camdenme.org); and Rockland (www.therealmaine.com). For boaters looking for that quintessential Maine boating experience, be sure to check out (and check-in) Coveside Inn and Marina (www.lincoln.midcoast.com/~coveside/), located in Christmas Cove near South Bristol.

For further visitor and boater information, contact the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber by calling 207-725-8797 or 877-725-8797 or visiting www.midcoastmaine.com. Main Street Bath (207-442-7291; www.visitbath.com) is also another great resource. The Maine Maritime Museum can be contacted directly by calling 207-443-1316 or visiting www.bathmaine.com.