To Greenport, to the Lighthouse

Long Island lighthouses. Long Island wines. Lots of sunshine. That defines a perfect summer’s day—just the the day I had aboard The Lighthouse Tour out of Greenport sponsored by the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation. My boyfriend and I had a great time being out on the water and learning about all these island lighthouses that we never knew existed!

When we first boarded the boat all of the crew, including Captain Bob, greeted every passenger hospitably. There was seating up top and all around the perimeter, as well as an enclosed cabin in the center. As we took off, a cool breeze started and our informative narrator, Bob Allen, began to speak about what we were to expect. His family actually owned a lighthouse back in the day and is invested in teaching people more about them.

Our first stop was the Long Beach Bar “Bug” Light. Its nickname comes from the fact that from a distance it looks like a large water bug. Then the boat went a little farther, all the way to the tip of Long Island, and we got to the Orient Point Lighthouse. This sits on top of Oyster Point Reef and its specific “coffee pot” look was designed to help mariners navigate through the rough waters of Plum Gut. And it really does look like a coffee pot because it’s shorter than the others and is made of curved cast iron plates.

Along with the lighthouses, another great part of this tour was that lunch is included in the package; everyone got a free glass of either Lenz Merlot or Chardonnay, a delicious turkey or ham sandwich, North Fork Kettle Chips and a chocolate chip cookie. Okay, back to the voyage.

Next it was onto Plum Island Light, which up until recently was used for U.S.D.A. offices and animal quarters. Many work to preserve the island today. My favorite lighthouse was Little Gull Lighthouse because there were seals in the water when the captain pulled up to it. There were at least six and it was better than being at the zoo! The only unfortunate part was that the male seal didn’t come out to strut his stuff. The last lighthouse we stopped at, as the sun was setting, was Race Rock. This lighthouse actually has a very interesting backstory, because the riptide is so bad that many ships have wrecked there. It is also said that it is haunted, as recorded on Ghost Hunters in 2004 (supposedly one of the cameramen saw a chair move and heard footsteps above at night).

Before I went on the cruise I had spoken to the chairman of the East End Seaport Museum, Ted Webb. He said that these cruises have been a great fundraiser for the museum and that he’s even narrated a few. Webb was born and raised in Greenport and says that lighthouses are so special because they were a “beacon of hope” for returning sailors. He also emphasizes that Captain Rob really gets “up close and personal to each lighthouse so that you can almost touch them.” I can attest to that.

East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation, 3rd St., Greenport, 631-477-2100, Lighthouse Cruises scheduled for: 8/27, 9/10, 9/24, 10/8, call for times. $95; $60 for teens/children. Includes box meal and complimentary glass of Long Island wine (for adults) or water. Groups welcome. 

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