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Editorial: Kalmar Nyckel and the dredging dilemma

February 15, 2019

“Lewes has a special and historic relationship with the sea.” – One of six core values that guide decision-making in the city.

A recent announcement from the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation and Delaware River and Bay Authority brought this core value to mind. For the second consecutive year, the Tall Ship of Delaware won’t be spending any time in Lewes this coming summer due to silting at the finger pier dock at the ferry terminal.

A first-class installation, the dock was constructed at considerable expense. For many years it served as an ideal downstate summer location for the popular replica of the ship that brought Swedish settlers to Delaware in the late 1600s.

But hydrodynamics being what they are, and without $3 million in either organization’s coffers for dredging, there’s no longer enough depth to allow the ship to make her way to and from the dock.

The big propellers of the ferries that come and go on a daily schedule scour the harbor for their purposes, but in the process likely send sediment washing and settling around the finger pier dock. Yin and yang.

This is one of those actions that diminishes a Lewes core value, in this case because it involves the sea and history.

When a core value is diminished, the city should take notice and see whether anything can be done to reverse gears.

There was a time, many years ago, when the Kalmar Nyckel would come into the center of Lewes and tie up at the city dock for several days. Nothing made a more dramatic splash in downtown Lewes. Crowds came. Business increased. All good.

But then the inevitable silting, a fact of life along the coast, caused the same problem at the city dock.

Dredging is expensive, and its benefits rarely last long. That sharpens the thorns of this issue. By nature, humans are problem solvers. For all the sharp resident minds in the area, and more arriving daily looking to get involved, this is a good problem looking for a solution.

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher emeritus, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.