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Delaware Tall Ship Visiting New England

Updated on July 25, 2013

Kalmar Nyckel from Sweden to Delaware

The Kalmar Nyckel is a beautiful three-masked, square rigger sailing vessel. She serves as a seagoing goodwill ambassador for the State of Delaware. I was fortunate to be in Provincetown the same time the ship was visiting.

The original Kalmar Nyckel sailed from Sweden in 1638. Her mission was to bring colonists to the New World. The early settlers were to establish the Colony of New Sweden, which is now called Wilmington, Delaware.

Only ship in era to make four trips

The Kalmar Nyckel made four round trip voyages bring settlers to the New World. No other vessel of that era made as many trips. The original ship sunk in the late 17th century, but you can see its’ re-creation sailing the east coast.

The new Kalmar Nyckel was launched on September 28, 1997. She measures 94 feet on deck and 131 feet overall. Her beam is 25 feet with a draft of 12 feet. The mainmast is as tall as a ten story building. There are nine miles of rigging and only four cannons to fight off invaders. She is painted the same shade of blue that is on the Swedish flag.

375th anniversary of original sail

On May 11, 2013 the King and Queen of Sweden along with the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland were on hand in Wilmington Delaware to celebrate the 375th anniversary of landing in New Sweden.

While making the ship in the dry dock of Delaware in 1997, a kitten was born in a toolbox. The building crew named him ‘toolbox.’ Toolbox sailed with the boat for 16 years, logging the most hours of sea time for any crew member.

Another Leo

Looking at the figurehead in the bow of the boat, you will see a two-tailed lion. The first tail represents the old ship and the second tail is the new ship. Leo the red lion is eight feet long. It took craftsmen one year to carve.

Wood carvers worked overtime

Ten wood carvers worked from drawing of 17th century sailing ships to design the elaborate, ornamental creations. The tools used were those similar to instruments used on the original ships: mallets, chisels, planes, handsaws and scrapers. Looking closely at the ship or pictures you may find, lions, griffins, mermaids, mermen, dolphins, birds, sea monster, emblems, keys and crowns. Towards the back of the ship on the right quarter you will see many wind gods and angel faces.

Don't miss the chance to see a Tallship

These beautiful re-creations are wonderful to view but difficult to maintain, upkeep and sail. Every chance you get to see one, you should make an extra effort to do so. We don’t know how long organizations are going to be able to continue providing a link to the past.


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