Photo: Hearst Connecticut Media File Photo
One of the best ways to kick of the season this Memorial Day weekend is to take a cruise on the C.J. Toth to visit the historic Sheffield Island Lighthouse, located at the southern end of Norwalk’s necklace of islands on the west entrance of the Norwalk River in Long Island Sound.
The cruises take place on Saturday, May 25, through Monday, May 27, at 11 a.m., 12:30 and 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online or at the dock, space permitting.
Activated in 1868, Sheffield Island Lighthouse, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was in service for 34 years before it was retired in 1902. Today a visit to this historic Connecticut landmark gives visitors a first-hand experience on how important this lighthouse was to coastal and oceangoing shipping. A bonus is that once on the island visitors get to explore the 151-year-old lighthouse.
A highlight of this journey is the cruise itself, which enables passengers to experience Norwalk from the water with views of the shoreline, islands and the harbor.
Reaching the island, passengers take a tour of the 10-room light keeper’s cottage and the lighthouse that is furnished in period furniture, giving visitors a glimpse of what life was like as a lighthouse keeper. If the day is clear, the New York City Skyline is visible.
Visitors are urged to save time to look for shells, play on the lawns, and unwind with a picnic lunch on your own private island before heading back. A new telescope that is free to use affords spectacular views. Visitors to the island this spring will also get a sneak peek at a pavilion that is being built on the island that will be available for parties and special events. It is expected to be completed this July.
Visitors who love nature and birdlife can explore the Nature Trail through the Steward B. McKinney Wildlife Refuge on the island. There is a wide array of bird and wildlife to be seenere, including nesting herons, wading birds, shorebirds and terns.
Passengers are asked to wear closed-toe shoes. For safety reasons, flip-flops are not allowed. The capacity of the boat is limited to 49 passengers, so advance ticket purchasing is recommended.
Sheffield Island Dock, N. Water and Washington streets, South Norwalk. $28, $16 ages 4-12, $7 ages 3 and under. Parking available in adjacent Norwalk Maritime Center Garage. 203-838-9444.