Kalmar Nyckel not coming to Lewes in 2019

Historic tall ship will skip the First Town for second straight year
February 12, 2019

High silt levels will prevent the Kalmar Nyckel from visiting Lewes for a second straight summer. 

“This decision comes with much remorse, as Lewes is an amazing summer destination and has always been one of Kalmar Nyckel’s favorite ports,” said Cathy Parsells, executive director of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation. “The ship used to spend a month of the sailing season at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry serving summer visitors. We have explored many options, but the silt build-up has made it too shallow for the ship to dock, much less sail.”

The Tall Ship of Delaware traditionally docks at a finger pier at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal on Cape Henlopen Drive. The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation and the Delaware River and Bay Authority have been working together to find a solution to bring the ship back to Lewes, but the cost is too great for each organization. It is estimated to cost about $3 million to remedy the situation for three years.

“We have been working with DRBA to determine if funding and permits could be secured for dredging the dock for a return this year,” Parsells said. “As much as we would like to be there, the cost of dredging is prohibitive.”

DRBA Executive Director Tom Cook said his organization has more pressing matters to contend with in other areas.  

“While the Kalmar Nyckel is a wonderful attraction that is popular with maritime enthusiasts and history buffs, and we’ll miss hosting her at the Lewes terminal, we simply can’t justify spending that amount of money,” he said.

The DRBA owns and operates the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry and the Forts Ferry Crossing. The DRBA also manages two airports in New Jersey (Millville Airport and Cape May Airport) and three in Delaware (New Castle Airport, Civil Air Terminal and Delaware Airpark). All DRBA operating revenues are generated through the bridge, ferry and airport facilities.

The Kalmar Nyckel will continue to offer public sails in Wilmington and Historic New Castle in 2019 as well as onboard crew-training programs this spring and summer.

The Kalmar Nyckel is a present-day reproduction of the flagship from the 1638 expedition that founded the colony of New Sweden.