SEA ADVENTURES CELEBRATE SUMMER IN CONNECTICUT’S FAIRFIELD COUNTY

Hoist the sails on a tall ship. Explore an island. Trawl for lobsters and sea stars. Watch the sunset at sea.

Refreshing summer adventures at sea are a great way to celebrate summer along the Long Island shore in Western Connecticut’s Fairfield County. There’s something for maritime explorers of all ages.

Tall Ship Tactics

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Soundwaters, an environmental education organization in Stamford dedicated to protecting the waters of Long Island Sound, invites the public to set sail aboard their 80-foot, three-masted schooner Soundwaters most weekends through September. Afternoon sails from 3p.m. to 5 p.m. are ideal for families, with passengers invited to help raise the sails and to examine first hand the aquatic life that lives beneath the waves. Educators teach participants about the quality of the water, and how to test it.

Relaxing and romantic two-hour early evening sunset cruises are better suited to adults, who are invited to bring their own picnic dinners and beverages on board. Afternoon sails are $30 for adults, $20 for children; sunset cruises are $30 for all ages.

The Soundwaters is located on 333 Ludlow Street in the Stamford Harbor Park Marina just off of I-95. Information, schedules and reservations are available at www.soundwaters.org or by phoning 203-406-3335.

Deep Sea Secrets

Oceanic Research Vessel
Oceanic Research Vessel

Educators at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk show and tell what goes on from the water’s surface to the bottom of the sea for passengers on the aquarium’s 29-passenger research vessel. Oceanic. Crewmembers drop the nets and passengers haul them laden with treasures for close-up views. The haul may include plankton from the surface and a variety of creatures from the muddy bottom, perhaps fish, crabs, lobsters, sea stars and other little-seen creatures. The catch is important since the observations are recorded as part of the on-going Long Island Sound Biodiversity Data Project. Cruises lasting two-and-a-half hours go out every day at 1 p.m. in July and August and on Saturdays at 1 p.m. in September and October. Cruises are $20.50 per person. Children must measure 42 inches to sail. For reservations, phone 203-852-0700, ext. 2206, during regular business hours; or email reservations@maritimeaquarium.org.

Island Adventures

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Board the Norwalk Seaport Association’s 49-foot catamaran C.J. Toth for a salty 45-minute escape to Sheffield Island. Passengers enjoy a special day of picnicking, tours of a historic lighthouse, shell hunting, and walks to view the colorful sea birds sheltered in the marshes and sandy shores of the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge.

Vistas of Long Island Sound from the 44-foot lighthouse tower are among the island’s highlights. On a clear day, the views reach to the distant skyline of New York City.

Trips to Sheffield Island will run weekends through September 29 with boats leaving at 11 a.m., 2 p.m., and 3:30pm. Return trips are at 1:15 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. Weekday trips at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. are also available through Labor Day, and the fare is $22 for adults, $12 under age12,

Clambake cruises depart at 6 p.m. every Thursday evening to September 26, returning at 10 p.m. They are a true New England dining experience in a festive tented pavilion on the lighthouse lawn. The menu includes clams, mussels, corn on the cob, and a choice of lobster, fish, steak, or chicken. Roundtrip cruise and dinner is $65 to $79 per person, depending on entrée. Tours of the lighthouse are included with dinners.

Special theme weekends include Pirates Weekend July 13, 14 and July 20,21 and Haunted Lighthouse August 10, 11. Early bird watchers can board special bird-watching cruises at 8 a.m. on July 6 and August 3. For details and tickets www.seaport.org or phone 203-838-9444.

For information about nearby events and a free copy of UNWIND, a full-color,
152-page booklet detailing what to do and see, and where to stay, shop and dine in
Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968,
Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site at www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com.

The Lights Are Back On — At Sheffield Island Lighthouse

It has been over one-hundred years since the lighthouse on Sheffield Island off the coast of Norwalk has cast it’s light across the waters of Long Island Sound. Tonight, that will all change thanks to NRG Energy Inc. A low-energy reflective light has been installed in the tower and will be turned on for the first time in over 100 years today. Activated in 1868, the Sheffield Island Lighthouse was in service for 34 years until its retirement in 1902. The lighthouse served as a navigational beacon before the Greens Ledge Lighthouse was built. Today, Greens Ledge Lighthouse is a beacon for pleasure and commercial boaters cruising Long Island Sound.

The Norwalk Seaport Association purchased the lighthouse in 1987 for $700,000 from Thorston O. Stabell, who bought the structure from the U.S. government years prior and used it as a summer residence. Today, the Sheffield Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is maintained by the Association. Visitors to the island can stroll along the shoreline of the island and explore the lighthouse museum and nature preserve that is home to a number of seabirds and other island wildlife.

The new light on the island will not be used for navigational purposes, rather its intermittent light, visible from the Norwalk side of Long Island Sound is a reminder of the history of this important maritime landmark and a beacon that will welcome visitors to Sheffield Island.

Norwalk Seaport Association Stages Murder Mystery to Preserve Historic Sheffield Island Lighthouse October 21!


Who done it? Find out as Norwalk Seaport Association (NSA) hosts a murder mystery dinner, “Double Trouble,” to benefit Sheffield Island lighthouse. The event will be held at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center on Friday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., and includes hors d’oeuvres and dinner while guests solve an exciting and entertaining mystery.

“It’s great fun to stage this murder mystery in support of our ongoing efforts to demystify the historic beauty and magnificence of our Sheffield Island lighthouse,” said Tom Shrum, president of the non-profit, volunteer-run NSA. “There’s no better way for southern Connecticut residents to show our pride in our local maritime heritage.”

This is the second event this year to benefit the lighthouse. In March, a sold-out crowd at NSA’s Light Keeper’s Gala collectively donated a record $49,000 for the environmental organization’s stewardship of the lighthouse.

Reservations to the murder mystery are required. Tickets are $75 per person for Seaport Association members and $85 for non-members, and can be purchased online at www.seaport.org.

About Norwalk Seaport Association

Norwalk Seaport Association was established in 1978 and stewards the Sheffield Island lighthouse, which celebrates 142 years as the jewel in Long Island Sound. During the summer, its C.J Toth ferryboat takes visitors to Sheffield Island for tours of the historic lighthouse, special events and enjoyment of a walking trail through the Stewart B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge.

NSA provides environmental education programs that use Sheffield Island and offers diverse special events and community projects, including the annual NSA Oyster Festival, now in its 34th year. This event attracts up to 50,000 people during three days in early September and provides $200,000 in fundraising opportunities for more than 20 other local non-profit organizations. In addition, the Seaport Association helped create Norwalk’s Coastal Area Management Plan; establish the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk; and revitalize historic South Norwalk.

More information can be found at www.seaport.org.