Sitting on the deck of our top-floor room at the Tugboat Inn and visiting with neighboring guests who have been vacationing here for two decades, it was easy to understand what keeps them coming back. What a view.

While Boothbay Harbor is a major tourist destination with lots of specialty shops, it’s quiet and relaxing at the Tugboat, which is situated at the end of the busy downtown. All guests receive a wonderful breakfast at the inn’s restaurant (located in an old Tugboat), with lots of hot and cold choices.

The staff here is super friendly, from Caseta Grant J, from Jamaica, who has been the welcoming presence at the front desk for many years, to the servers in the restaurant. Manager Bonnie Stover has become a real friend, along with her husband, Mark, who has taken us on two boat trips in and out of the harbor. Mark also plays and sings in one of my favorite groups, the Holy Mackerels.

Our dinner, at a table overlooking the harbor, was made special by our server, Lois, who has worked at the inn for 28 years. And just to demonstrate what a small state we live in, it turns out that Linda taught the grandchildren of Lois’ brother.

We love wines from Cellar Door Winery in Lincolnville, and they are featured here. We chose their Catina Rosso ($26), a blend of Barbera, Sangiovese and Grenache, and it went well with our meal. Because we only had to walk next door to our room, we got to drink the entire bottle.


Remembering the crabcakes ($12.99) we enjoyed here three years ago, I had them again as an appetizer. The extensive menu, as you would expect, features seafood, and the baked stuffed hadock ($21.99) was calling my name — partly because it comes filled with crabmeat. A tasty newburg sauce covered this delicious dish, and for sides I had fresh veggies and coleslaw.

Bonnie kindly informed us that a table of 22 people was arriving at the restaurant at 6:30 p.m., so we moved our reservation up to 6 p.m. But we lingered, enjoying a bowl of sherbet and the lovely view. Even though they were busy, no one rushed us out. Before we left, darkness set in and lights came on all over the harbor — a beautiful sight.


As summer wound down, a post-Labor Day visit to Boothbay Harbor felt decadent. The cooler temperatures of September had us smiling.

The Tugboat Inn offers comfortable rooms, and ours was flooded with light from the sliding glass doors to the balcony. We spent a lot of time drinking in the beautiful view and watching all the bustling activity of this busy harbor. It was a great spot for reading, relaxing and visiting with neighbors out on their balcony.

Downtown shops and art galleries are only a short walk away. We always visit Sherman’s Bookstore when we are in the area, and I came away with yet another gardening book I’d been wanting. The selection of books here is incredible.


The open dining room, with big windows looking out on the harbor dotted with islands, is a special place for dinner. You can’t get much closer to the ocean without getting wet.

My dinner of choice was the crabcakes, and my meal began with a ceasar salad ($7.99). I ordered mine straight up — no anchovies, please. But one can also get this as an entree by adding grilled chicken, salmon or shrimp for an extra five or six dollars.

I’m sure my eyes widened when Lois delivered a gigantic dish of salad. She said, “It’s a meal all by itself!” Yes, indeed. I enjoyed every bite of the crisp romaine, crunchy croutons and creamy dressing. George helped with a few bites, but I polished the rest off.

After that giant saland, my appetizer-sized order of crabcakes made for a perfect dinner. The panko crust makes these crabcakes extra crispy, but the fresh crab really shines, because there is little in there except for crabmeat, enhanced only by a little mayonnaise and parsley. It makes for the perfect crabcakes, in my opinion.

A spicy chipotle aioli brightens this dish up. With a squeeze of fresh lemon and microgreens, it truly is great. I didn’t eat all of the second cake, but knew it would make a fine lunch when I returned home.

I certainly didn’t want a heavy dessert, so the creamy raspberry sherbet was a refreshing way to end this lovely meal. George ate most of it.

Visit George’s website — — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed by town in the “Best of Maine” section.

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