Kalmar Nyckel returns to Lewes

Tall ship offers public sails, pirate adventures
Delaware's tall ship Kalmar Nyckel is returning to Lewes for the month of August. BY RON MACARTHUR
August 4, 2011

Kalmar Nyckel is sailing back from Massachusetts to her home state of Delaware and is expected to arrive in Lewes Friday, Aug. 5. The public is invited to join the ship for a sail or to sign on as volunteer crew.  Public sails will begin Sunday, Aug. 7, and will be offered through Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5.

Passengers can sail on this authentic re-creation of a tall ship that brought the earliest permanent settlers to Delaware. The ship has eight sails and eight miles of rigging. Capt. Lauren Morgens and crew stand ready to make the trip exciting for the whole family. Visitors can choose an evening or day sail, or embark on a special pirate sail. Although the original Kalmar Nyckel was never a pirate vessel, serving instead as a trader, naval scout and Colonial ship, today’s crew love playing the part in the pirate sails. These excursions are especially popular with children.

“A sail on the Kalmar Nyckel is a unique way to learn about Delaware’s maritime and cultural history, and it’s fun, too. Passengers can haul lines and sing a sea chantey when the crew hoists the tops’l,” said Catherine Parsells, Kalmar Nyckel Foundation executive director.

Kalmar Nyckel is an authentic re-creation of a 17th century Dutch vessel, one of America’s pioneering tall ships that brought some of the earliest permanent settlers to the colonies. Her historical significance mirrors that of the Mayflower. The original Kalmar Nyckel sailed from Sweden to the New World in 1638, leaving her passengers to establish the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley, at Fort Christina in present-day Wilmington.

Kalmar Nyckel was featured in April in National Geographic Television’s “Return of the Ghost Ship,” which aired in 124 countries around the world. This documentary explored a 17th -century ghost ship found intact at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Kalmar Nyckel and her crew were selected for the live shots given the ship’s strong resemblance to the sunken ship.

Kalmar Nyckel was also used by the British Broadcasting Company for a documentary about the 18th century, presented by historian Dan Cruickshank. This program explored the experience of thousands of children who were shipped over to the American Colonies as indentured servants during the 17th and 18th centuries - many against their will. They were sold to planters on arrival for terms of up to seven years. The BBC film explored what life was like for the children, who worked on Colonial farms across Delaware and beyond.

Kalmar Nyckel is also seeking volunteers to join her sailing crew. No sailing experience is necessary and the experience is open to people ages 18-75-plus (ages 14-17 with a parent).

Those who join the captain and crew for the two-and-a-half week class will learn to sail this magnificent tall ship. Graduates can assist with day sails in Delaware and voyage with the ship to other ports along the East Coast.

This summer class is designed for residents who can commute to Lewes and are able to commit the time for the class and sailing. This course will take place in Lewes Aug. 6 to 20. Those who are interested should contact the captain at for more details and to register. Another course will be offered this winter in Wilmington.

For public sail tickets and more information, contact the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation office at 302-429-7447 (toll free at 866-659-7447) or visit Tickets for adults are $60, children 17 and under, $40. All trips depart from the Lewes Ferry Terminal dock.

The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation preserves and promotes the cultural and maritime heritage of Delaware for the education and enrichment of all.