The Kalmar Nyckel tall ship visits Greenport for public sails...

The Kalmar Nyckel tall ship visits Greenport for public sails Aug. 3 to 13. Credit: Jon Caspar

Start practicing those sea shanties. The Swedish tall ship replica Kalmar Nyckel is coming to Greenport Aug. 3 to the 13 and will be offering public sails during which riders can help the crew haul lines and set the sails.

“Last year we came for a long weekend, and it was such a success and well-received trip that the captains wanted to come back for longer. This is the longest we’re visiting any port this year,” says Jan Ross, director of marketing and public relations for the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, based in Delaware, where the ship is usually docked. 

Sails are 2½ hours each, and, of course, passengers don’t have to help with anything if they don’t want to, Ross says. “Some people just prefer to relax and wander around the ship and enjoy the breeze,” Ross says. Volunteer crew members — who sleep on board the vessel — will tell tales of the Kalmar Nyckel’s maritime history and explain how the ship works.

For those who don’t wish to sail, the Kalmar Nyckel is offering free deck tours from 4 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 5 and Aug. 12. Those tours don’t require tickets or reservations, Ross says. “We have stations on the deck where crew explain the mechanics of 17th century sailing,” Ross says.

The Kalmar Nyckel is the second tall ship to visit Greenport this summer. The Nao Trinidad, one of five ships in Ferdinand Magellan’s armada that made the first sailing voyage around the world, docked in Greenport Harbor in June.


The Kalmar Nyckel is a replica of the original ship that brought Swedish settlers to the New World in the 1600s to establish a Swedish colony in what is now Delaware. “The Queen and King of Sweden wanted to get in on the Colonial revenue that they saw New England and New Amsterdam generating for their countries,” Ross says. Kalmar is the city in Sweden that helped pay for the ship’s four round-trip journeys across the Atlantic, and Nyckel means key in Swedish, Ross says.

The ship’s first voyage to the New World was in 1638. She was captained by Peter Minuit, the same man who purchased Manhattan for the Dutch by trading beads and blankets. The Kalmar Nyckel sank in battle in the North Sea of Scotland in 1652. 

In the 21st century, unlike in the past, the Kalmar Nyckel is captained by women.


“This is a big, beautiful, complicated, stunning vessel. Most boats of this complexity and design and time period don’t do day sails. We give people the opportunity to see it in action,” says Capt. Lauren Morgens, 43.

The ship captained by Morgens for 17 years, needs 24 crew members — only four are paid and the rest are volunteers. “I started sailing tall ships when I was in college,” Morgens says. She did a semester-long program run by the Sea Education Association out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts. She’s been a captain of the Kalmar Nyckel for 17 years. “I really love the teamwork of this. There’s nothing you can do on the boat by yourself. You need help,” she says.

John Eastlund,  73, of Wantagh, who has a master’s degree in nautical archaeology and worked as a geologist and oceanographer before retiring, is one of the volunteers who will be living on the ship for about seven days and helping with the day sails. “I’ll be a deck hand. Swab the deck, clean the heads, handle the sails and participate in emergency drills,” says Eastlund, whose grandparents are from Sweden. He’s been a volunteer with the Kalmar Nyckel for two years, traveling to Delaware about once a month to live on the ship.

“I’ve always been interested in ships and nautical history,” says Eastlund. He says he’s excited for the historical vessel to come to Long Island. “I’m telling everybody about it.”

Visitors on the sails may learn how the ship had no engine in those days; how sailors navigated using only the stars; how there was no electricity, only candles and lanterns for lights; how there was no modern plumbing; no weather forecasting so ships might sail unexpectedly straight into a storm, and no phones or radios to call for help.

“It’s a really unique combination of adventure and education,” Ross says of a trip on — or to — the ship.

Kalmar Nyckel Tall Ship 

WHEN | WHERE Sails offered 10 a.m. Aug. 3 to Aug. 6 and Aug. 9 to 13; free deck tours from 4 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 5 and 12. The ship docks adjacent to the L.I.R.R. train station, 104 Fourth St. in Greenport. Check website for additional sail times. 

COST $65, $40 12 and younger. Advance reservation recommended; last year, sails sold out in advance of the arrival.

INFO 302-429-7447, It’s recommended that passengers bring water and sunscreen, and they may bring a small backpack with snacks (no coolers; the ship will sell waters and chips). Sails are recommended for ages 8 and older.

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