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.
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.
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.
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.