No need to travel far for an island adventure this summer. Beginning Memorial Day weekend, the 45-foot catamaran C.J. Toth will depart regularly from Norwalk, in Connecticut's Fairfield County, for the salty 45-minute escape to Sheffield Island. Passengers will 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.
Many special outings from clambakes to bird watching. also are planned by the Norwalk Seaport Association, the volunteer organization responsible for restoring and maintaining the island and its 143-year-old stone lighthouse. Pirate theme weekends are scheduled July 14-15 and 21-22. with scallywags and salty dogs on hand to demonstrate skills like sword fighting and pistol firing. Ghosts and goblins will be in residence for the "haunted lighthouse" weekend August 11-12, offering child-friendly spooky fun and activities for young visitors. The big Annual Oyster Festival, now in its 35th year, is slated for September 7-9.
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.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Sheffield Island Lighthouse was in service guiding boaters for 34 years until its retirement in 1902. It was purchased by the Norwalk Seaport Association in 1987. Last October, the tower was lit again for the first time in more than a century. The new low-energy white light will not be used for navigation, but it will be visible intermittently from the Norwalk side of Long Island Sound.
Trips to Sheffield Island on the 49-passenger catamaran will run weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day with boats leaving at 11am, 2pm, and 3:30pm. Weekday trips at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. will be added from July 4th through Labor Day the fare is $22 for adult, $12 ages 4 to 12, and $5, age 3 and under.
Clambake cruises will leave at 6 p.m. very Thursday evening June 21 to September 27, 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 $58 to $78 per person, depending on entree, with tours of the lighthouse included.
Bird Watching Tours are scheduled for June 16, 17, 30, July 1, 28, 29 from 8am to 10:30am.