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.