A Cruise to See the Lights of
Eastern Long Island Sound


Aboard Captain John's Sunbeam Express, September 20, 1999

Captain John's Sunbeam Fleet, out of Waterford, Connecticut, conducts several lighthouse cruises each year, in addition to nature cruises and fishing trips. I've sailed aboard the 100-foot Sunbeam Express each of the past two winters on an eagle-watching cruise up the Connecticut River. After spending my first two trips aboard this boat shivering and trying to wipe the wind-blown tears from my eyes so I could see through my binoculars, it was a nice change of pace to set sail on a lovely, late-Summer morning.

Below are some digital images, taken by Diane Mancini, of this near-perfect day. Diane handled the digital camera, leaving me to take 35mm slides and prints. I got two great shots this day (Race Rock and Latimer Reef) which could end up in my book. On to the cruise...

I picked up my sister Judy (this cruise was her birthday present) about 4AM. We took the 7AM ferry from Orient Point to New London to make sure we had plenty of time to get to Waterford for the trip. When we got to Waterford, we parked, signed in, and waited in the morning sun while the boat was prepared...

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Our first lighthouse was the 1886 cast iron Old Saybrook Breakwater light, at the mouth of the Connecticut River, then the 1838 Lynde Point tower about a mile and a half upriver...

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We left the two Connecticut River lights behind and headed south across the Long Island Sound...

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Upon crossing the Sound, we came upon the birthday girl at Orient Point...

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As we passed the light, we could see that her 100th birthday banner had been removed...

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Across Plum Gut, the Plum Island lighthouse waited, perhaps anxiously, for a decision about whether a restoration effort will be allowed by the federal government. I spoke to Captain Ben Rathbun, the narrator on these cruises, about the Plum Island restoration and he was nice enough to mention it to the passengers...

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We navigated around the south side of Plum Island, many wondering what experiments might be going on as we calmly floated past, and moved on to Little Gull Island...

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Then across The Race to see Race Rock...

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From Race Rock, we went around the northwest corner of Fisher's Island toward North Dumpling Island...

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For those of you who don't believe the rumors about North Dumpling's owner's oddness, I offer the following mini-Stonehenge, on the northwest corner of the Dumpling...

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A little further east takes us to the 1884 cast iron Latimer Reef light...

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Then we headed west toward the CT coast, coming upon the Morgan Point lighthouse. Note that this light is the same structure as Plum Island, and others, but has been modified. It is attached to the adjacent private dwelling, has had dormers added, and has a replacement lantern which looks odd in its largeness...

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The next stop led us to the 1909 New London Ledge and 1801 New London Harbor (Pequot) lights...

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It was interesting to note how different these two neighboring lights are, and that they are over a century apart in age...

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Arriving back at Niantic Bay to end our day, we got a pleasant surprise: The USCG ship Eagle had anchored in the bay...

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Captain John was kind enough to go a bit out of his way to go around the lovely ship so that we could get a view with the sun behind us...

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After we arrived back at the dock, Diane, Judy and I headed off to Bridgeport to catch the ferry to Port Jefferson. And that basically was our day. We got home around 7PM or so. A long day, but a memorable one.

It was a nice change of pace to be along as a passenger, and not have to narrate the trip. Don't get me wrong - I love narrating tours and cruises - but this time I didn't have to speak fast so that I could get some good photos before the boat moved on.

I can't recommend Captain John's cruises highly enough. The Sunbeam Express is a lovely boat, everyone is friendly, Captain Ben knows lots of local history, and the price for this five-hour cruise is an absolute steal at $30 per person. They should have their 2000 schedule ready early next year. Be sure to catch one of the many cruises these folks offer. I expect to be back at least twice next year: February for the bald eagle cruise and sometime next Summer for another day of lighthouses. I hope you can join me.

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The code and text on this page are Copyright 1999 Robert G. Muller. The images are Copyright 1999 Diane Mancini. Please don't violate copyright laws by reproducing anything from this page without permission from the copyright holder. Thanks. :-)