After 34 years of being a sturdy worthy vessel for environmental education on Long Island Sound, the research vessel Oceanic will chug back into Norwalk harbor this Sunday from its final public outing with The Maritime Aquarium.
You can join us. There’s limited space left aboard the R/V Oceanic for her final two Fall Foliage Study Cruises – at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
After this weekend, the next cruises we offer will be in mid-December for the season’s initial Seal Spotting Cruises – and these outings put into service The Maritime Aquarium’s sleek new high-tech research vessel Spirit of the Sound™. This $2.7 million 63-foot catamaran will be the country’s only research vessel with hybrid-electric propulsion, making her bigger, quieter and greener than Oceanic, a 40-foot diesel-powered trawler.
So we will say thanks and goodbye to the Oceanic, which has been with us since the beginning. Since before the beginning, really.
The Oceanic was designed by Robert L. Lowell in 1978 and her hull was manufactured by John Cousins at the Webbers Cove Boat Yard in East Blue Hill, Maine. Vessel construction took place at the Atlantic Boat Works in Booth Bay Harbor.
Beginning in 1980, the Oceanic Society – at the time, based in Stamford and led by Christopher du Pont Roosevelt – began using her to reveal the marine world of Long Island Sound to the paying public. Within just a few years, however, the Oceanic Society became one of the organizations to come together to plan and build an aquarium in Norwalk. (And Roosevelt would be first president of our Board of Trustees.)
When we opened in July 1988, the Oceanic became the Aquarium’s. We’ve been taking families and school groups out onto Long Island Sound aboard her ever since; some 5,000 participants a year.
In our first few years, our study cruise season was from April to October. But by the early 1990s, as more and more seals began to enter the Sound for the winter, we added Seal Spotting Cruises, and the Oceanic gamely took on practically a year-round schedule.
Oceanic’s legacy at The Maritime Aquarium will be this: for many children – and not just those from underserved neighborhoods – a field trip to the Aquarium for a study cruise aboard the Oceanic was their first (and still only) opportunity to ever go out on a boat.
What’s next for Oceanic? Her future remains in environmental education. She is being sold to a company that operates “lobstering tours” in Boston Harbor.
The forecast for Oceanic’s final weekend at The Maritime Aquarium looks lovely; two perfect fall days to be out on the water – and for us to show you what lives in the water. Tickets are $22.95 (or $17.95 for Aquarium members). You have to be 42 inches tall to come aboard. Reserve your spots by clicking here (or on “Buy Tickets” at the top right of this page) or by calling (203) 852-0700, ext. 2206.