One of the more famous locations on Sebago Lake is called simply “The Sandbar.”

This half-mile long stretch of clean fine sand is located 2 miles north of the boat launch at Sebago Lake Station on the western shore. It is barely more than 200 yards outside of Portland Water District’s 2-mile “No Bodily Contact” zone.

The property is owned by PWD and they monitor water quality in the vicinity. PWD leases the property to The Sebago Lake Boating Association whose members pay an annual fee of $50, as I understand it. Residents of Standish may use the property free with proof of residency.

On any given weekend as many as 100 boats (maximum limit) and their inhabitants will pull into the Sandbar, turn stern to beach and drop anchor or beach the bow in the case of pontoon boats and spend the day or a weekend at the Sandbar. On average, with four people or more per boat, there are 500-1,000 people, eating and drinking and enjoying the sun, the clean beach, the water and the friendships developed over time.

At one time when I was in my teens, the Sandbar was home to the best waterskiers on Sebago as it’s sheltered cove, rock-free bottom and long, straight beach made for the perfect spot to pick up and drop off skiers. But the popularity of the location as a spot for marina boaters (people who own a boat and no property on the lake) has all but nixed any waterskiing activity. Mostly, you’ll see people on tubes of every shape and size. It seems the companies making these products are stretching the boundaries of imagination in outdoing one another. Everything from gerbel wheels to rocket sleds find themselves being towed behind boats with people aboard. Lots of fun!

Each weekend, beginning late Friday afternoon, boaters arrive from various marinas around the lake. For a day or two, the Sandbar becomes their de facto home away from home. PWD rules state no dogs, boats must have their own toilet facilities and a few other simple rules and folks are only too willing to comply.

The Sandbar is special not only for its nice sandy beach and clean, sandy bottom but for the easygoing and friendly nature of the folks who spend their time there. I am not sure what the policy is on overnight camping but it is a rare weekend when there are not several boats tied up for the night and campfires on the beach. Everything is carry-in and carry-out and I compliment the SLBA on their policing of the area. Each time I have stopped in for a visit, the beach and wetlands behind it have been trash free and pristine.

While the Sandbar is different things at different times, usually on weekends, it is party-central for a good portion of the boaters. The beach at these times seems to split up into three sections: 1. Big, loud, fast cigarette-style boats with big motors, through-hull exhausts full of party hearty folks. 2. Cruisers 30 feet or longer full of people looking to kick back, relax in the sun and enjoy a nice place to swim and hang out. 3. Families in pontoon boats and smaller multi-use boats full of kids and beach toys looking for a getaway from the hassles of the workweek and the heat of the city. All are welcome and everyone gets along with each other.

Friday afternoons and evenings are relatively quiet, but as Saturday passes into mid-day, the beach soon reaches its 100-boat limit and the parties begin. It’s easy to hear the music and smell the barbecue grills if you’re within half a mile of the Sandbar as I am living in Eel Cove behind it. I take no issue with the SLBA or its members. All whom I’ve met and spoken with have been very friendly and fun and enjoyable folks to be around.

The concept of the Sandbar, too, is excellent. I applaud PWD for working with the SLBA so that people with no property on the lake have a place to tie up their boats and hang out, make friends and be a part of all that is Sebago Lake. My only complaint is when the through-hull exhaust crowd decides to light up their 750hp supercharged engines and race back to whatever marina they came from. But, you know, that’s only 1 percent of the people and they’re not bad folks, just a bit loud. If you’ve ever sat on the shores of Sebago while several of these boats were at full, unmuffled throttle, you would come to understand a new standard for loud. However, in this world of too many laws, I’ll live with that 1 percent. The remaining 99 percent are a good reminder that people can get along unpoliced and look out for the common good while still enjoying themselves.

Sunday mornings when I wake up I can look across Eel Cove and see the overnight folks coming to life. Usually no matter how hot the day, 5:30 a.m. on Sebago Lake is chilly and many of the Sandbar’s overnighters seem to remember sweatshirts and jackets but not long pants or sweats. It is humorous to see these folks all bundled up from the waist up but wearing swim shorts and dancing around the remnants of the previous evening’s campfire waiting for coffee and some warmth.

Sundays usually bring quieter days. Some folks with long journeys back to Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania have to pack it in by noon and head out. Others, probably folks who live in southern Maine seem reluctant to let the weekend go. There are always a few stragglers that hang on ’til sunset Sunday evening. And if you’ve ever spent a day at the Sandbar among the good people who hang out there you’d understand why. It’s a great place full of great people enjoying one of the cleanest, coolest lakes anywhere. None better anywhere to my mind.

So, buy, borrow or rent a boat and hang out at a true Sebago Lake landmark – The Sandbar.

Brian Webb is a seasonal resident of Standish.


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