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The Kalmar Nyckel returns to Greenport offering deck tours and day sails across the Bay. (Photo by Jon Caspar)

A meticulous recreation of a 1630s-era tall ship, the Kalmar Nyckel, is making its way back to Greenport Harbor for the second consecutive year. 

Beginning Wednesday, August 2, step aboard this powder blue, three-mast merchant ship and get a unique, hands-on experience of history and adventure. This full-scale replica offers free deck tours as well as two-and-a-half-hour day and evening sails around Gardiners Bay. 

“We go wherever the wind takes us, often that’s around Bug Light,” said Jan Ross, director of public relations and marketing for the Kalmar Nyckel. “We are so excited to be back in Greenport.” 

Day and sunset sails are offered at select times between Thursday, August 3, and Sunday, August 13, with a full schedule listed here. Enjoy this one-of-a-kind hands-on experience where you can haul lines, set sails and hear tales from the crew. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and pack plenty of water and even a picnic during this unique trip across the bay. 

“Sailing the Kalmar Nyckel is a combination of adventure and education for all ages,” notes Ross. “If you don’t know much about 17th-century sailing, you certainly will after you come aboard.”

The History

Kalmar Nyckel was a Swedish merchant ship that sailed across the Atlantic for a 1638 expedition that founded the colony of New Sweden – the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley. The name of the ship translates to “The key of Kalmar,” Kalmar being the name of the Swedish city south of Stockholm that funded the construction of the original ship.

Captain Lauren Morgens has been at the helm of Kalmar Nyckel for 17 years. (Photo by Ms. Davis Photography)

The 141-foot wide, 105-foot tall ship made eight journeys across the Atlantic – an astonishing feat for a ship of that era. The ship’s real-life counterpart was lost during a battle in 1652 – although she would probably not have withstood almost 400 years on the water. This detailed replica was launched in 1997, serving not only as an ambassador of the State of Delaware but also providing an abundance of maritime-based activities for the whole family for a quarter of a century. 

The ship has a crew of four full-time members, including Captain Lauren Morgens. Twenty trained volunteers are on the ship to aid in maintaining, sailing and teaching programs aboard the ship. On Saturday, August 5 and 12, between 4 and 7 p.m. visitors can enjoy free deck tours where they will learn the fascinating history of Kalmar Nyckel without bracing for seasickness

“Unlike other historical replicas in maritime museums, we get to spend most of our time on the water,” said Captain Morgens. “It is an opportunity not just to look at a static exhibit, but to see how this technology functions. All of the power is provided by human muscle and mechanical advantage and guests can even help us during the voyage, which is an exciting opportunity.”

The key on the stern of the ship is a new addition in honor of Kalmar Nyckel’s 25th sailing season. (Photo by Jon Caspar)

Elaborate wood carvings of a mermaid, merman and fish as well as a castle in Kalmar can be viewed on the stern of the ship and adds a pleasant pop of color. In celebration of its 25th year on the water, the Kalmar Nyckel received a new addition – a two-foot golden gilded key that is also a replica of what was on the original vessel.

“They never put words on the back of the ship, it was usually carvings that would tell a story or tell the name and origin of the ship,” said Ross. “We unveiled the key in May and can celebrate the fact that it now is an exact replica on the outside – excluding the necessary modern amenities like the engine.” 

Kalmar Nyckel will remain in Greenport Harbor until Sunday, August 12, when it will then make its journey north toward Salem, MA. The ship will dock adjacent to the L.I.R.R. train station at 104 Fourth St., Greenport. Day and evening sails must be booked in advance online and are expected to sell out quickly.