Ahoy Mateys! The Pirate Adventure on Sheffield Island July 23 and 24, 2022

Pirates have been around for as long as people have sailed the world’s waters, and in fact, in some parts of the world, they still exist. Scallywags of all ages can step into a world of pirates on Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24 when purchasing a ferry ride ticket to Sheffield Island for the Pirates Weekend hosted by the Seaport Association in Norwalk and back once again by popular demand. For tickets click here.

Swashbuckling rogues, dastardly villains, infamous she-pirates, and wicked wenches will find their sea legs and hop aboard the C.J. Toth Ferry for a cruise to Sheffield Island. Arriving on the Island, kids can hunt for treasure on the beach, play games, sing sea chanteys, watch swordplay, listen to tall tales of thrill and danger, and hear colorful stories of pirates near and far. Who knows what secrets they will reveal!

This is the weekend to experience the freedom of a pirate’s life, and to learn about their lore and history! The pirates that invade Sheffield Island every summer are different. They enjoy taking a break from their adventures on the seven seas and come to Sheffield Island to have a boatload of fun with those lucky scallywags visiting during the Pirates Weekend.

All pirate fun and games are free with the purchase of a ferry ticket. The ferry departs the dock at 11 a.m., 12:30 pm, and 2 p.m. on both days, Saturday and Sunday. It is best to arrive 30 minutes before the boat departs the dock that is located on 4 North Water Street in Norwalk in the parking lot of the Maritime Aquarium. Parking is available at the Maritime Garage. For tickets http://www.seaport.org *This special event is not part of the Connecticut Summer Museum program.

About the Seaport Association
The Norwalk Seaport Association was founded in 1978 by a group of local citizens who had the vision to revitalize South Norwalk and preserve Norwalk’s maritime heritage. The Norwalk Seaport Association offers a cultural, environmental, and historical journey to the Norwalk Islands. The Sheffield Island Lighthouse and the Light Keeper’s Cottage provide a unique historical and educational venue, which strives to increase awareness, appreciation, and consideration for our environment and how the preservation of historic buildings and nature contribute to our quality of life. It is our belief that preservation strengthens the perpetual partnership between the past, the present, and the future. The combination of the Lighthouse and the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge offers an unparalleled opportunity to educate children of all ages and adults about the importance of preserving Long Island Sound, our environment, and our maritime heritage.

Norwalk’s Sheffield Island Gets Ready For Summer 2022

Sheffield Island Lighthouse located off the coast of Norwalk has been renovated and maintained by the volunteers of the Seaport Association since 1978 so that summer visitors taking the Association’s ferry to the island can enjoy its’ unspoiled natural beauty. The outing to Sheffield Island is one of the most popular activities in Connecticut, not only because of the thrill of being out on the water but also for the chance to tour a historic lighthouse on the National Register and, explore a private island.

Expect a warm welcome on Sheffield Island

Seeing how beautifully maintained the island is, it begs the question, what goes into opening Sheffield Island for the season? The short answer is a lot! Linda Cappello, a long-time Trustee on the Executive Board has taken on the task of putting together a team of volunteers that get Sheffield Island ready for summer guests that take the Seaport’s ferry to it. “The first thing I do is visit the island prior to putting together a work party to see how the island and lighthouse have weathered the winter. I have to access if there are any particular concerns that need to be addressed in addition to the routine tasks that have to be accomplished each year before we open,” Cappello said. “I inspect the interior and exterior of the lighthouse and grounds to determine what tasks need immediate attention, as well as those that require eventual attention.”

On the initial trip to the Island, the work party spends about five hours cleaning the place up. Tasks like cutting up fallen limbs, painting picnic tables, cutting down all seagrass, and weeding the pathways are just some of the many things to do. Lighthouse tasks are a bit more challenging. All the windows, that were boarded up have to be uncovered, the gutters and downspouts have to be cleaned and checked for damage, the tower has to be checked, the lighthouse rooms have to be cleaned, and the furniture and displays polished and set -up for the season. The work party, consisting of 20 to 25 volunteers will go out to the island several times before Memorial Day Weekend in order to make sure everything is in tip-top shape.

Cleaning up the Brick Memorial Walkway in Front of the Lighthouse

When asked, why she organizes this seasonal pilgrimage, Cappello says, “It is my passion. I have cruised the waters of Long Island Sound and the Norwalk Islands for as long as I can remember. My father introduced me to the Sound when I was a child, and I have loved it ever since! If I could live on the Island I would! As for our volunteers, and we always welcome the help, just contact us. I think it offers them a unique opportunity for a good cause, especially if they have a love for Norwalk’s maritime history and Long Island Sound,” Cappello concluded. The work of course doesn’t end there. Throughout the summer season, the lighthouse has to be cleaned, the grass has to be mowed, and the shells along the pathways have to be maintained, along with a myriad of other tasks to keep Sheffield Island and Lighthouse welcoming for visitors.

This year, the Seaport Association is offering a sunset cruise on Thursday, May 26, Friday, May 27, Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. A cruise to Sheffield Island is scheduled for Saturday, May 28, and Sunday, May 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Special bird cruises departing at 8 a.m. are scheduled for Sunday, May 15, and Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29. Beginning in June sunset cruises will run from Wednesday to Sunday and three-hour cruises to Sheffield Island and Lighthouse will run on Saturday and Sunday. Starting June 28, cruises to Sheffield Island will run twice a day, Tuesday – Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The vessel does not offer cruises on Mondays. For tickets and more information http://seaport.org.

Passengers are asked to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure. The vessel leaves from the Seaport Dock on 4 North Water Street in Norwalk. The dock is adjacent to the Stroffolino Bridge at the corner of Washington and Water Streets in South Norwalk. Parking is available at the adjacent lot or at the Maritime Center Parking Garage across the street from the dock. Tickets are available online in advance by clicking here.

Getting ready to welcome summer visitors

About the Norwalk Seaport Association
The Norwalk Seaport Association was founded in 1978 by a group of local citizens who had the vision to revitalize South Norwalk and preserve Norwalk’s maritime heritage. The Seaport Association offers a cultural, environmental, and historical journey to the Norwalk Islands. The Sheffield Island Lighthouse and the Light Keeper’s Cottage provide a unique historical and educational venue that strives to increase awareness, appreciation, and consideration for the environment and how the preservation of historic buildings contributes to our quality of life. The combination of the Lighthouse and the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge offers an unparalleled opportunity to educate children of all ages and adults about the importance of preserving Long Island Sound, our environment, and our maritime heritage.

EXCITING HANDS-ON ANIMAL ENCOUNTERS ON LONG ISLAND SOUND THIS SUMMER

Oceanic Research Vessel
Oceanic Research Vessel

Go aboard The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s research vessel this summer to journey out onto Long Island Sound and discover first-hand “what’s down there?”

The Aquarium’s hands-on Marine Life Study Cruises offers exciting introductions to fish, crabs, skates and other animals brought up right out of the water and onto the research vessel Oceanic for examination.

The study cruises will depart on Saturdays at 1 p.m. through June 29 and will push off at 1 p.m. daily in July and August.

“Before people can be inspired to take actions to preserve and protect Long Island Sound, they first must understand what animals are in the Sound and how complex, diverse and alive this marine environment is,” said Jamie Alonzo, the Aquarium’s director of education. “Our best exhibits within the Aquarium can’t top the immediacy and impact of seeing dozens of animals come up out of the water right in front of your eyes.”

During each 21/2-hour Marine Life Study Cruise, animals are brought onboard from different water levels and bottom habitats of the Sound. A video microscope provides a magnified look at wriggly plankton gathered at the sunlit surface. Tiny crabs and worms emerge from a sampling of the anaerobic muddy bottom. A biodredge reveals a hidden world of sponges, snails and mollusks. And everyone inspects the trawl net’s bounty: varieties of fish and crabs, skates, lobsters, sea stars, squid and always a few surprises.

Study Cruise aboard the Oceanic
Study Cruise aboard the Oceanic

Maritime Aquarium educators involve participants in the processes, from sorting through samples to helping to pull in the trawl net and returning animals to the water.

Besides being fun and eye-opening, Marine Life Study Cruises also contribute to local scientific research. Water-chemistry and weather readings are taken. And details about the animals brought onboard are entered into the Aquarium’s Long Island Sound Biodiversity Project, a database of physical and biological features available online to teachers and researchers.

Also during the study cruises, as part of a Horseshoe Crab Census conducted by Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, The Maritime Aquarium tags and records data about all horseshoe crabs collected.

“Boat rides are always great for some family fun, but the animal encounters and learning opportunities make our study cruises even more memorable,” Alonzo said.

Cost of a Marine Life Study Cruise is $20.50 per person ($18.50 for Maritime Aquarium members). All passengers must be at least 42 inches tall.

Reservations are strongly recommended; walk-up tickets will be sold space permitting. The Oceanic can accommodate 29 passengers.

Marine Life Study Cruises also are available for weekday charters for schools on field trips, summer camps, Scouts and other groups at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Cruises depart from the dock near the Aquarium’s IMAX Theater entrance.

To reserve your spot on a Maritime Aquarium Marine Life Study Cruise or for more details, go to www.maritimeaquarium.org or call (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206. For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com