Fishers Island, NY 06390
Stopping on Fishers Island is a chance to get some solace for the soul and discover one of the great treasures of the eastern Long Island Sound, north coast. Anyone who has sailed this part of the Sound to or from the route to Newport, Block Island and beyond has at some point sailed by Fishers Island. It is a very private place known primarily as a summer resort for the wealthy who have owned spectacular homes on the island for generations.
Almost immediately, upon arrival, you get the sense that everyone knows everyone and as Fishers Island Yacht Club Marina Manager, Lincoln White, told me you can still hitchhike on Fishers Island. In fact, the “downtown” area is so small that you will note St. John’s (one of three churches on the island, but the only Episcopal one) web site does not have an address for the church. You just ask and someone will point you to the church.
I highly recommend you start your discovery at Fishers by getting a slip at the Fishers Island Yacht Club. Since the emergence of Dockwa, an online booking service for mariners, it is easy to arrange a reservation and Dockwa made it possible for me to find FIYC and its proximity to St. John’s.
St John’s like its counterpart in Oak Bluff’s, Martha’s Vineyard, is a seasonal parish, which means it functions roughly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Given that seasonality, this parish is unique in that it maintains a scholarship program which focuses on year-round island residents. While most people on the island are summer residents there remains a small population which lives here year-round and while the church stops holding services it does not stop serving the community. One of the first people I met on the island told me when I asked where St. John’s was, “my son got a scholarship from that church…” I don’t believe he was an Episcopalian since he had trouble defining the location of the church – -but he sure knew what St. John’s meant to the island! St. John’s is like comfort food for the slightly older members of the faith. Here is the kind of mix between morning prayer and Rite I or II that some of us grew up on. Anyone who remembers a low church tradition will find comfort here. Especially in a summer resort, the simplicity and warm morning prayer tradition is much appreciated. But the commitment of St. Johns to the island shows a depth of faith beyond the lovely clapboard structure perched on the hill just up from the post office.
127 years old at the time of this writing the simplicity of the building mirrors the understated feeling of the island. Unlike the excesses of Newport’s gilded age, Fishers Island and St. John’s is firmly rooted in an old fashion, well-bred, understated elegance that resonates memories of a simpler more gentile time when good manners were a must and the motto unto whom much is given much is expected was preeminent. St. John’s is all of that and more.
If you arrive Friday or Saturday , be sure to order from Edwards Lobsters. If you stay at Fishers Island Yacht Club (which I highly recommend) the lobsters are delivered to your boat. Other most stops include Toppers Ice Cream an easy walk from the Yacht Club and Pequot Inn which has good food and fun for the family until 10 pm when it becomes an over 21+ club. One small point the term yacht club to many might mean a large facility, but FIYC like all the rest of Fishers Island is on a much smaller scale, with two small white buildings that blend into the shoreline.
To be blunt, there is simply no place for brunch on the island. However, right down the street from St. John’s there is a lovely town green where the post office is located. Right across the street is the News Café, a well-stocked deli that has great bakery items and a large selection of breakfast and lunch sandwiches. There is ample outside seating and it is a great place to just sit relax and watch kids playing on the town green. A few doors down is the aforementioned Toppers Ice Cream which is a clever dog themed ice cream parlor with a large selection of ice creams, my favorite puppicino.