Dan Chadbourne surveyed the parking lot at the Saco city pier off Bay Avenue on Saturday and was discouraged by the lack of vehicles.

Chadbourne, Saco harbormaster and a full-time lobsterman, said the money generated by the parking meters supports the pier. But for the past few weeks, the rain and wind have kept boaters away.

“If nobody comes, we can’t fix anything,” Chadbourne said.

Memorial Day weekend is the traditional start to the boating season in Maine, but this year appears to be off to a slow start thanks to a month of rainstorms and cool temperatures. Although some marinas reported a brisk business over the weekend – several freshwater boatyards said they were too busy to talk to a reporter – saltwater harbormasters and marinas acknowledged a quiet Memorial Day weekend for the state’s 107,211 registered boats.

The water temperature off Portland was 47.8 degrees Saturday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Sebago Lake State Park staff estimated the water temperature at between 55 to 60 degrees.

Chadbourne said boaters and fishermen haven’t been able to get out of the Saco River onto the high seas for two weeks. On Saturday, there were no charter boats out, there were only half the usual boats at their moorings, and the striped bass were not biting.


“The water looks like chocolate milk. Everything is about a month behind,” Chadbourne said.

Cathy Norton, manager at Kennebunkport Marina, said it has been too cold to go out on the ocean.

“We had customers who made the trip down from Yarmouth yesterday. They took water over the top of the boat. It is still nasty out there,” Norton said.

Kevin Battle, Portland harbormaster, said the bad weather has kept people from working on their boats to get them ready for launching, but he expects the season will soon heat up because gas prices are down, the economy is more agreeable and the warm weather will eventually arrive.

“There will be more people underway,” he said.

Port Harbor Marine in South Portland was busy Saturday. Cindy and Mike Snow were washing the hull of their 38-foot sailboat, the SURPRISE, before applying a fresh coat of paint.


“We are a little bit behind with all this rain. But that’s the weather in Maine,” Cindy Snow said.

Guy LaBranche of South Portland was waxing his motorboat, the Liluna. He said he wasn’t in any hurry to get her in the water because it won’t be consistently warm enough to go out for another few weeks.

“I have gotten ready earlier, but it wasn’t worth it,” LaBranche said.

But boaters on some rivers and lakes were out in full force Saturday, with some marinas too busy to talk.

“We are so busy I really don’t have a minute right now,” said David Martens, manager of Port Harbor Marine in Raymond.

Sam Minervino of Long Beach Marina in Sebago said the upside to the cold weather is great fishing conditions.


He said the salmon and trout stay near the surface when it is this cold. He said there are more fish, because the big bay never froze over the winter so there were fewer ice fishermen.

Even Chadbourne, the Saco harbormaster, said it is hard to be discouraged for too long. He said he hopes the bad weather this spring will be balanced out by a great summer and fall.

“I am hoping for a September and October that is pretty stellar,” Chadbourne said.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: QuimbyBeth

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.