I recently took a library trip called “Long Island by Land and Sea.” While the itinerary included locations within a two hour’s drive, I and my fellow travelers visited a variety of places including the Peconic River Herb Farm and the Raphael Winery. The final stop was a lighthouse tour aboard the Peconic Star Express out of Greenport. There was also time for a bit of shopping and lunch in between.
Our tour guide on the trip was Carole Lucca of All Around Long Island Tours. I was not surprised at how informative and friendly she was because I had gone on a previous library tour that she led to the Hamptons. Some of the interesting tidbits she shared included the fact that Suffolk County has ten townships while Nassau County only has three along with two cities – Glen Cove and Long Beach. We traveled through both Brookhaven Township and Riverhead Township during the trip. She also pointed out that Martha Clara Vineyards was owned by the Entenmann’s of the famous bakery.
We arrived at the Peconic River Herb Farm in the late morning. The sun was shining, and it was the perfect temperature for a relaxing stroll around this lovely garden center. After picking up a few souvenirs in the quaint gift shop, many of us meandered down to the river where we took photos by the water.
A short drive away was the Raphael Winery where we were treated to tastings of four wines on their comfortable patio overlooking the grape vines. Along with our drinks, we were served bread and samples of cheese. While we partook of the refreshments, the winery’s owner, Julie Petrocelli Vergari, filled us in on the history of the winery and winemaking. She explained that Raphael was family-owned and spoke about the process of turning grapes into wine and the fact that Long Island wines have a lower alcohol level than California wines because of the lesser number of sunny days during the year. Afterward, guests were invited to shop at Raphael’s gift shop or purchase their own bottle of wine at a tour discount.
Following our pleasant time at the winery, we headed to Greenport where we were to board the Peconic Star Express for our lighthouse tour. Before boarding the ship, we took a break for lunch. A few people including myself chose to eat at Claudio’s a well-known restaurant in town not far from the dock and then walk through the village for some shopping.
The day had turned overcast when we met by the dock to start our lighthouse tour and; although it was cold on the water, passengers had an option to stay inside and just go out on deck or aboveboard for photos when we passed the lighthouses. The first lighthouse we saw was the Long Beach Bar Lighthouse, commonly known as Bug Light. According to our Captain, this offshore lighthouse can be toured by appointment and is automated so does not have a keeper. Our next stop was the Orient Point Lighthouse which is also unmanned and is currently for sale for around $250,000. The captain told us we were in a dangerous body of water because of the rocks in the area.
When we arrived at the Fire Island Lighthouse near Plum Island, our captain informed us that it played a role in the first battle of the Revolutionary War. This lighthouse includes an oil house next to it and New York City rocks around it.
We continued on to Great Gull Island which we learned serves as a nesting area for terns. Race Rock Lighthouse, by Fishers Island, attracts seals. We were even able to view a few as they poked their heads out of the water near the rocks. Race Rock Light is an active lighthouse noted for its foghorn that sounds 24/7. It is also automated and, like the Orient Point Lighthouse, is also up for sale. The last lighthouse we viewed was Little Gull Lighthouse. We then made our way back to Greenport where photographer Vladimir Reyes took shots of our group. After dropping off passengers from the Jericho Library, we headed back to the parking area that serves as the drop-off for the Hicksville passengers. It was a long day but a very enjoyable one, and everyone was already talking about signing up for the next trip.