Aside from Tucker’s Island Lighthouse, here are some of the other facilities and highlights of the Tuckerton Seaport.
Visitors Center/Hunting Shanty. As of this writing the visitors center had been flooded by a malfunctioning sprinkler system, and because of water damage in that building, the seaport’s offices and gift shop had been relocated to the Hunting Shanty, a bright-red building adjacent to the parking lot.
The Hunting Shanty is interesting in itself, especially if you are an aficionado of decoy-making. The building houses the Barnegat Bay Decoy Museum, and an array of beautiful, functional decoys lines the walls. Hundreds of baymen’s stories have been collected in binders, and are available to read. There are also a handful of the aforementioned sailing and hunting vessels known as “sneakboxes” displayed under the building.
Crest Fishery. Strolling around Tuckerton Creek (or “crick” as folks around here might pronounce it), you will find a reconstruction of Crest Fishery, originally located in Beach Haven Terrace on Long Beach Island, one of about a half dozen pound fisheries that operated on LBI.
This recreated “pound” fishery shows how fishermen of an earlier era utilized “pound nets,” a system of large, elaborate traps placed off the coastline in the ocean. The fishermen would eventually row or motor out and raise the nets, dumping the catch into their boats. This kid-friendly exhibit explains this process, and also lets you buy and sell seafood just as they did in the early 20th century.
Hotel DeCrab. Next to the Crest Fishery is the reconstructed Hotel DeCrab: the original was once located in Harvey Cedars, then moved to Beach Haven on LBI. The structure was one of the first U.S. Life Saving Service storage shelters, filled with the equipment necessary to save the lives of shipwreck victims.
Later, it became a “non-luxury hotel,” catering to ship captains and hunters who used the place for temporary quarters, sleeping in iron cots, and sitting around trading stories and enjoying “leisure pursuits.” The contemporary structure features an exhibit about the region’s commercial fishing and charter boat/recreational fishing industries. There is also an exhibit about 2012’s Superstorm Sandy and its local impact.
Marshelder Gun Club/Surf Museum. At the end of this section is the reconstructed Marshelder Gun (hunting) Club and the New Jersey Surf Museum at Tuckerton Seaport. The surf museum not only explores the science of surfing and waves, but displays a collection of some 50 surfboards, as well as clothing, memorabilia, and surfer’s stories.
Perrine’s Boat Works. Two types of iconic hunting, fishing, and recreational boats were designed near Tuckerton: the garvey and the aforementioned sneakbox. This exhibit at the Seaport tells the story of J. Howard Perrine’s original boat works in Barnegat, which operated from 1900 to 1956. When it crafted sailing sneakboxes in the 1920s and 1930s, the boatworks were internationally famous, and the company might employ 40 to 50 sail makers and ship builders. Youngsters could make five cents an hour sanding the boats.
Today, in the re-created Perrine Boat Works, you will find boat craftspersons adhering to traditional techniques, making or restoring sneakboxes and garveys. There are also biographical and other materials highlighting the lives of master boat builders with names such as Perrine, Heinrichs, and Spodafora.
Joe Dayton’s Sawmill — Parkertown. As early as 1699, a sawmill in Parkertown was turning the forests that surrounded Tuckerton into lumber for shipbuilding and exports. This building also features exhibits that explore other pinelands occupations and businesses, including the farming of cranberries and blueberries. There is a special account of Elizabeth White’s pioneering blueberry industry which is celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. (See U.S. 1, June 24, 2015)
Sea Captain’s House. Across the parking lot, and only open on a limited basis, is a circa 1855 combination late Federal and early Victorian-style house, which is listed on the State and National Historic Registers. Captain Zebedee W. Rockhill called it home from about 1873 to 1891; then, J. Henry Bartlett, a noted Quaker educator, lived there from early 1902 to his death in 1946.
Coast Guard Lifeboat. On permanent display at the seaport is #44355, a circa 1966 44-foot steel U.S. Coast Guard lifeboat, which was stationed at Long Beach Island for its entire USCG career.
For Kids. In addition to the Tucker’s Island Lighthouse and the attractions above, the seaport offers kid-friendly beach apparatus drill demonstrations, historic boat rides on Tuckerton Creek, a historic-themed miniature golf course, and a small barnyard where you can feed the goats and chickens.