SALISBURY — With her flags snapping in the breeze and under the command of Capt. Lauren Morgens, the 141-foot, three-masted Tall Ship Kalmar Nyckel came into the Merrimack River yesterday, her powder-blue hull a hallmark of her 17th century, Dutch-built origins.
The Kalmar Nyckel settled into her berth on the river side of the Salisbury Beach State Reservation right beside the Peacemaker, a 150-foot long, three-masted barquentine under the command of Capt. Lee Philips.
Both ships are part of Saturday and Sunday's Merrimack River Maritime Festival in Salisbury. They should be joined today by the 55-foot, gaff square-top yawl, the Must Roos, and her swashbuckling band of Pirates of the Dark Rose. The weekend offers boat tours, pirate shows, concerts, fireworks and other festivities, all organized by the Salisbury Beach Partnership in tandem with the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce.
The flags of four countries and one state flying from her masts tell the tale of the Kalmar Nyckel's remarkable history. Built by the Dutch in the 17th century for the Swedish navy, which included residents of Finland, the Kalmar Nyckel played an important role in the birth of the United States.
"She was a Swedish colonial vessel that founded the Colony of New Sweden, which is where Wilmington, Del., is now," Morgens said. "She landed the first colonist there in 1638."
After four trans-Atlantic crossings, bringing the colonists who founded and settled Delaware, the first Kalmar Nyckel is gone, but its new incarnation is a fairly accurate reproduction built in 1997.
For six years, 29-year-old Morgens has captained the volunteers who make up the crew of this ambassador ship for the state of Delaware. The fully-rigged ship carries about eight miles of line in the rigging for her eight sails — seven square sails and one fore and aft sail — the same historic conformation that led her powerfully across the Atlantic in the 1600s.
"This ship is really a fantastic platform for eduction," Morgens said. "It makes everything come alive."
The Peacemaker's captain couldn't agree more about the benefits of sailing in building the character and knowledge of youth. Although built in Brazil in 1986 by an Italian family of shipbuilders intent on using it for cruising the Mediterranean, in 2000 the ship was purchased by the Twelve Tribes to use as a floating classroom for youth of all cultures to build healthy lifestyles and strong character.
Founded in the early 1970s in Tennessee, the Twelve Tribes is a confederation of religious communities internationally located. This is the first year the Peacemaker has taken to sea, Philips said. A crew of nine young men are manning the ship in Salisbury.
"We have young men aged 16 to 22 from our communities from all over the world," Philips said. "They serve a six-month apprenticeship."
While on board, the crew learns every facet of sailing, from working the lines to navigation and everything in between, Philips said. The crew currently on board has been sailing the along the Eastern Seaboard since March, and Salisbury is their 14th port of call since leaving Georgia, home port for the Peacemaker, Philips said.
The public can enjoy these sailing museums during the Maritime Festival, with public tours on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $5 for all three ships, available first-come, first-serve only at the festival.
Pirate shows, maritime workshops, and land-side events also run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with a free concert at the Beach Front Stage at 7 p.m., featuring Bellevue Cadillac. Fireworks follow at about 10 p.m.
For complete schedule information, visit www.beachfests.org., or call the Beach Fests Hotline at 978-462-7274.