Log In


Reset Password
  • MENU
    Local News
    Saturday, July 13, 2024

    The colorful Kalmar Nyckel makes waves at Mystic shipyard

    Workers at Mystic Seaport Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, along with the ship’s crew, work on the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel Friday, Sept. 2, 2022. The vessel, a full-scale replica of a Swedish merchant ship that established the colony of New Sweden in the Delaware valley in 1638, is at the shipyard for scheduled maintenance work after a nearly week-long stay at City Pier in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Workers at Mystic Seaport Museum’s Henry B. duPont Preservation Shipyard, work on the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022. The vessel, a full-scale replica of a Swedish merchant ship that established the colony of New Sweden in the Delaware valley in 1638, is at the shipyard for scheduled maintenance work after a nearly week-long stay at City Pier in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints

    Stonington ― A replica of a 17th-century Swedish ship is currently in dry dock undergoing routine inspections and maintenance in the Mystic Seaport Museum shipyard.

    The Kalmar Nyckel, painted in the vibrant blue and yellow of the Swedish flag and decorated with elaborate carvings such as a lion, sailed up the Mystic River to the museum in late August under the command of Captain Lauren Morgens, who has served aboard the ship for 18 years, 16 as captain.

    The ship is owned and operated by The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, a Delaware-based, not-for-profit organization.

    Designed for both functionality and maneuverability, the original Kalmar Nyckel, a square rigged ship known as a Dutch Pinnace, was built in approximately 1627 and brought Swedish settlers to the New World in 1638 to settle the colony of New Sweden.

    “The original settlement ― the first fort that they built ― was in what is now Wilmington, Delaware, and it is 50 steps from where this replica was built, so our modern-day shipyard is right next to a park which is the original landing site,” Morgens said.

    While the ship is in dry dock for its required biennial inspection, routine maintenance is also typically done. At 141 feet and 300 tons, the Kalmar Nyckel must use a shipyard capable of handling large ships.

    Morgens said Mystic Seaport was a great fit to do the work.

    “They have so much knowledge and experience with wooden boats, and this ship is 25, so she’s not an old boat from their perspective ― they work with much, much older boats all the time ― but that is starting to hit an age where you may have to start thinking about things like replacing planks and doing some more significant work. And they just have a lot of expertise in that,” she said.

    Chris Gasiorek, the museum’s senior vice president of operations and watercraft, said there are other shipyards that could haul a ship of the Kalmar Nyckel’s size out of the water, but that Mystic Seaport’s shipyard, which is celebrating its 50th year, is the only one on the eastern seaboard that has the expertise to work on them.

    Though the Seaport’s shipwrights have the experience to do the work, most of it is being done by Morgens and the ship’s 11 crew members, including eight volunteers. On Thursday morning, Morgens was 10 feet off the ground in a cherry picker hard at work.

    “Every time we go to the fuss and bother ― which is pretty significant ― of hauling her out, we wash, scrape the bottom, inspect and replace any caulking that needs work, which is what keeps the ocean out between the planks. Pretty important,” she said.

    The caulking the crew uses is roughly the same as it was in the 17th century, although today, cotton fibers are used along with flax and tar and a more modern seam compound. She noted that cotton would have been unavailable when the original ship was built.

    “Being at the Seaport is really special,” Morgens said. “It’s fun; it’s interesting; it’s a cool community to be part of. And, frankly, we’re going to pay somebody money to haul our boat out. It might as well be another non-profit that we want to support and that’s doing a mission that’s similar to ours.”

    Visitors to the Seaport can view the ship and the work being done from now until Sept. 13, when the Kalmar Nyckel returns to duty as a floating classroom and the centerpiece of the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s educational programs that serve more than 30,000 people each year.

    More information on the Kalmar Nyckel can be found on the foundation’s website at www.kalmarnyckel.org.

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.