MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — While many of the local hotels and motels were half full, if that, for much of the 2020 tourist season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the harbors were having a banner year.
“Boating was a way that people could get away from everyone else and just be isolated on their boat with their group or family,” said Mount Desert Harbormaster John Lemoine.
“I think a lot of people got used to being on their boats earlier and then stayed with them as long as they could into the fall. It wasn’t necessarily that we had more visitors; we had the normal visitors for longer.”
Bar Harbor Harbormaster Charlie Phippen said 2020 was a big year for yachts, especially.
“Large yacht traffic in Bar Harbor was unlike anything I’ve seen in the 21 years I’ve been here,” he said.
“I think the big yachts would normally tend to go to foreign ports in the summer. But that type of cruising wasn’t available to them last year because of the pandemic. So, they decided to come to Maine in the summer and go south in the winter.”
As for the 2021 boating season, Phippen said, “I’ve got more reservations right now than I usually have at this time of year. People who have bigger boats and want to get prime dockage in Bar Harbor in the height of summer are the ones who are making reservations.”
Lemoine said he, too, is expecting at least as much demand for space in Northeast Harbor this year.
“We started taking reservations on Jan. 1, and they are looking as good as or better than last year,” he said.
Because of the pandemic, some boat owners began calling last March to cancel their reservations in Mount Desert waters.
“But I don’t anticipate that will happen this year,” Lemoine said.