The Norwalk Seaport Association has kicked off its summer season with the opening of Sheffield Island that is home to the 142-year-old Sheffield Island lighthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
From May through September, visitors can board the Seaport Association’s 45-foot C.J. Toth catamaran for a cruise to the island then tour the lighthouse, observe wildlife in their natural habitat in the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, hunt for shells along the beach, dine on a picnic lunch, play on the lawns around the lighthouse or simply unwind and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds them. A special treat when visiting the island is a climb to the lighthouse tower that affords magnificent views of Long Island Sound and, on a clear day, of the New York City skyline.
A special offering by the Seaport Association is the Wednesday Sunset Harbor Cruises from 6:30 p.m to 9:30 p.m. This relaxing sunset cruise on the Seaport’s new 45-foot ferry is a spectacular way to explore the beauty of Fairfield County’s “gold coast”, Norwalk Harbor and Long Island Sound. Advance reservations for the popular sunset cruise are strongly recommended.
A favorite of young and old alike is the Thursday Evening Clambake at Sheffield Island Lighthouse. Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for this famous Thursday night outing. A true New England dining experience, the evening allows participants to dine in the festive tented pavilion on the lighthouse lawn, with tours of the lighthouse itself included in the cost. Roundtrip cruise and dinner is either $58 or $78 per person, depending on entree. Advance registration only. To dine in the shadow of the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse and look out to the skyline of Manhatten is truly and unforgettable summer experience. The Clambake begins June 30, 2011 and runs through August 25, 2011.
The Seaport Association also offers a popular Bird Watching Cruise that leaves the dock at 7:30 am and returns at 10:30 am. Birding enthusiasts will join Larry Flynn, Master Wildlife Conservationist, Division of Wildlife, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, aboard the Seaport Association’s ferry, to learn about the birds that make Long Island Sound their home. The first tour for 2011 is Saturday, June 4 from 2 pm to 4 pm. This years dates for the special birding crusies are: Sunday, June 12 and 26; Sunday July 10, Tuesday July 12, Sunday July 24, Saturday July 30, Sunday August 7 and Wednesday August 10. For reservations call 203-838-9444.
The ferry service to Sheffield Island is Monday-Friday — 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and on weekends and holidays the ferry runs at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Round-trip ferry tickets: $22 adults $20 seniors/NSA members $12 ages 4-12; $5 ages 3 and younger. To buy tickets call 800-838-3006 (24/7) visit the website http://www.seaport.org or call 203-838-2898 on the day of the ferry ride.
The ferry leaves from the Sheffield Island Lighthouse dock located at the corner of North Water Street and Washington Street in Historic South Norwalk. Parking is available adjacent to the dock and the Norwalk Maritime Center Garage. The 2011 Season begins May 28, 2011 and ends September 25, 2011. It is advised to arrive at the dock 15 minutes before departure.
The Norwalk Seaport Association was established in 1978 and stewards the Sheffield Island lighthouse, which celebrates 142 years as the jewel in Long Island Sound.