Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tall Ship Kalmar Nyckel Sails PTown Harbor and Beyond

Photo from the Kalmar Nyckel website
The tall ship you've seen tied up at the far end of MacMillan Pier is the Kalmar Nyckel, based in Wilmington, Delaware, and it comes to Provincetown for about two weeks every summer, taking passengers on an amazing sailing trip around Provincetown Harbor and out beyond Long Point, into Cape Cod Bay. It is a replica of the original Kalmar Nickle, a three-masted, 200 metric ton square-rigged Dutch Pinnace built in 1625. She was the pride of Sweden, making more North Atlantic crossings between Europe and the New World than any other ship of her day, totaling four round trips in all. She brought European settlers to the Delaware Valley in 1638, where they established the Colony of New Sweden, their first permanent settlement, in the area that is now known as Wilmington, Delaware. The ship also served as a merchant ship, a war ship, and was even a pirate ship for a time during its thirty years on the water.
The present-day Kalmar Nyckel was modeled after the original with great attention to detail, and is kept in immaculate condition by a different crew of volunteers every few weeks, with only a handful of actual crew members, including a captain and first and second mates. Volunteers are put through an extensive training course over the winter, spending eleven consecutive Saturdays learning to rig the ship and to carry out the commands of the captain. The ship is owned and operated by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, a non-profit organization with a mission to preserve the heritage of the early colonists who made that crossing of the Atlantic from Europe to the New World over the winter of 1637-1638, and it is considered a sort of seagoing ambassador for the State of Delaware.
The ship sails to a number of deep-water ports along the East Coast every summer, with a different crew of volunteers signed on for the sail to nearly every port of call, and living on-board while in port providing daily sails for passengers in each town. I took the sunset sail from Provincetown Harbor a few years ago, and it was truly delightful. Passengers who wish to get the feeling of hoisting sails and doing some of the other work of sailing the ship are invited to take a brief course on-board during their cruise, learning critical commands that must be carried out precisely in a team effort to raise and adjust various sails during each trip. Others will sit out of harm's way, watching their fellow passengers and the ship's volunteer crew carry on the physical work of sailing the ship.
The Kalmar Nyckel departs from the far end of MacMillan Pier on a three-hour sail at 10 AM and at 3 PM daily through Saturday, August 4th. Cold drinks and light snacks are available on-board, or you can bring a sack lunch as long as any containers are disposable. No glass containers or coolers are allowed. You'll want to bring along a light jacket or windbreaker, perhaps a hat and sunblock, and definitely your camera. Be at the pier twenty minutes prior to departure time to board the ship. Call 302 429-7447 for reservations or more info, or just stroll down to the pier for a look at this beautiful ship, and get information while you are there. This trip is a bit pricey at $60, $40 for ages 17 and under, but worth the money. There are just a few days left  this summer to take advantage of this rare opportunity to experience a bit of the seventeenth century aboard this remarkable ship.


  1. Does this beautiful ship have cannons? We were in Provincetown yesterday and are sure we heard cannon fire.

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