Chart: NOAA 13287
Located about 12 miles southwest of Portland, Maine, and roughly 46 miles northeast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Scarborough River is tucked in the northeast corner of Saco Bay. Boaters will find the entrance to the river a bit tricky to navigate because the shoals at the river mouth—and some of the buoys that guide you through the shallows—can shift from season to season.
To approach the river from the south and west, cruise up the Maine coast at a safe distance offshore until you reach the red-and-white lighted whistle buoy “WI”, about 2.3 miles east of Wood Island Light. From there, you should head almost due magnetic north to Stratton and Bluff Islands, then steer to the west of Bluff Island. When abreast of the island, turn toward the western side of Prouts Neck. Close with GC “1” and RN “2” at the mouth of the river, clearly visible just west of the neck. Numerous seasonal buoys will lead you into the sheltering basin behind Pine Point. Coming from the east, head first for the green bell buoy “1”, about a mile east-southeast of Richmond Island. Then steer slightly north of west, toward the World War II observation tower on Prouts Neck. Round the neck and the river’s mouth will be to starboard.
- The Scarborough area offers no public dockage or marinas. The Prouts Neck Yacht Club (207-883-4596), near the mouth of the river, is only of interest to transient sailors affiliated with reciprocating clubs, but the anchorage there is very uneasy anyway.
- Your best bet is to grab one of the free public moorings behind Pine Point managed by the harbormaster (207-885-5914; VHF 9, 16 or 78). Stays of up to 7 days are possible.
- Anchoring inside the Scarborough River is not allowed, nor is it necessary given the free public moorings managed by the harbormaster (see below).
- The town of Scarborough manages 2 launch ramps near the mouth of the Scarborough River. One is at Pine Point (Hurd Park) and the other is at Ferry Beach, near red day beacon “6”. Low-tide water depth is around 1 foot, so owners of deeper-draft vessels will have to plan their trips accordingly. A day pass to launch and park at either spot is $10 for residents; $20 for non-residents. Seasonal passes can be purchased for $25 resident and $50 non-resident. There is no put-in fee for kayaks, canoes and cartop boats. Both ramps are managed by attendants. The ramps also feature seasonal floats (April-October), toilets and public water.
- A third a launch ramp with a long float can be found at Clay Pits Road on Nonesuch Cove; however, this ramp is only usable at high tide.
- Paddlers can launch for free at any of the above ramps, as well as the small put-in at the end of Seavey Landing Rd.
- Dave Corbeau
- (207-885-5914; VHF 9, 16 or 78)
- Cell: (207-671-2821)
- Email: email@example.com
- Scarborough Harbormaster Website
- Pine Point Fisherman’s Co-op (207-883-3588): Fresh seafood just a stone’s throw from the Pine Point ramp.
- Canoes can be rented at the Scarborough Marsh Nature Center (207-883-5100)
- Rising Tide Restaurant (207-883-1792): Dock-and-dine restaurant overlooking the ramp at Pine Point. Seafood is the specialty, and the atmosphere is relaxed.
- Bayley’s Lobster Pound (207-883-4571): Fresh lobsters and other seafood right on the river. Can be accessed by boat from midtide to high tide.
- Clambake Restaurant (207-883-4871): A short walk from the launch ramp on the Pine Point side of the Scarborough River. Features standard American fare, fried clams and seafood dishes.
- Black Point Inn (207-883-2500): An easy walk from the ramp on the Ferry Beach (east) side of the mouth of the Scarborough River. The fare is refined American and French cuisine, but be aware that men are required to wear jackets for dinner.
- Black Point Inn (207-883-2500): A relatively expensive inn and restaurant located within walking distance of the ramp on the Ferry Beach (east) side of the mouth of the Scarborough River.
- The Scarborough River’s most popular attraction is easily the Maine Audubon Society’s Scarborough Marsh Nature Center (207-781-2330); seasonal (207-883-5100), a few miles upriver (or north on State Route 9) from the Pine Point ramp. The center offers guided tours, as well as canoe and kayak rentals.
- On Prouts Neck, 2 attractions are within walking distance of the Ferry Beach ramp. The Prouts Neck Bird Sanctuary offers a self-guided tour of impressive mansions, as well as the shoreline. The sanctuary boardwalk begins just east of the grounds of the Black Point Inn.
- Winslow Homer’s studio, a national historic landmark at the southern terminus of the only public road on the Neck, is a property of the Portland Museum of Art (207-775-6148). The website includes some pictures of the interior and exterior of the building.
- Take in a round of golf at the scenic Prouts Neck Country Club, on the east bank of the river right next to the Ferry Beach launch ramp. Greens fees start at $25. Call (207-883-9851).