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.

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

SoundwatersFullSail
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.