The Kalmar Nyckel wrapped up its 2016 August Summer Season in Lewes soon after graduating its 38th class of new volunteers. Coming from all walks of life and experience, bringing a variety of skills, these 11 men and women join approximately 300 others who can "Weather Clew, Sheet Home" and "Heave Around the Halyard."
Perspective volunteers must be 14 years of age and complete a course on the history and workings of the 17th century square-rigged sailing ship including: sail setting and dousing, climbing and rigging, learning the ships 183 belay points (luckily not all need to be mastered), maintenance and life onboard ship, emergency preparedness and Delaware and ship history, with a sprinkling of pretend-piracy thrown in. In addition, volunteers complete 40 hours of volunteer service doing tours, sails, special events, or by supporting the ship and its mission in other ways. Training culminates in the successful completion of practical and written ordinary seaman exams.
The Kalmar Nyckel is unique in its history and existence as it also connects the multiple nationalities that were prominently involved in the founding of Delaware and the Cape Region, namely the Dutch, Swedes, Finnish and British.
The original Kalmar Nyckel served as Gov. Peter Minuit's flagship for the 1638 expedition that founded the colony of New Sweden, establishing the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley, Fort Christina, in present-day Wilmington. She would make a total of four roundtrip crossings of the Atlantic, more than any other documented ship of the American colonial era. As a full-scale and faithful re-creation of Minuit's original flagship, the present-day Kalmar Nyckel serves as a floating classroom and inspirational centerpiece for the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation's award-winning educational programs; engaging students of all ages and stimulating them to learn more about Delaware's rich maritime and colonial history. It also provides a unique venue for diplomatic, recreational, governmental, business and commemorative functions - a sea-going good will ambassador for the state of Delaware.
Tim Southerst of Lewes and owner of PUZZLES and Lewes Gourmet, who is British but who's mother is Finnish, who's father-in-law was a merchant seaman, and who himself has lived in The Netherlands with his family said, "Apart from the feeling of achievement, it feels like all facets of my life have come full circle. I look forward to helping with future sails and sharing my love of the sea, maritime and world history with students taking part in the Kalmar Nyckel's educational programs and others enjoying day sails."
Southerst, enourages anybody who might be interested to consider the Kalmar Nyckel's winter training class which starts in January and continues to April, meeting at the ship's dockyard in Wilmington for 10 sessions. He emphasizes that no experience is required! Another two-and-a-half week session similar to the intensive training offered in Lewes will also convene in the spring in Wilmington. Volunteers in training will have the opportunity to sail and also help with educational programs, and even live aboard in some instances.
Both Captains Morgens and Dounce express, "The Kalmar Nyckel couldn't sail and wouldn't exist without her volunteers!" It takes at least eight to 15 volunteers to set sail and nearly all of the ship's maintenance, repair and day-to-day upkeep is done by volunteers.
The ship is owned and operated by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, a nonprofit organization that offers a broad array of sea- and land-based learning and recreational experiences. For more information on volunteering, sailing or visiting the ship or visitor's center go to www. Kalmarnyckel.org
On September 9, Governor Jack Markell will sign Senate Bill 205 onboard to officially designate the Kalmar Nyckel, as The Tall Ship of Delaware.