Delaware’s tall ship weathers storm

While most of our region was bracing for Hurricane Sandy, the crew of Delaware’s tall ship the Kalmar Nyckel was preparing the ship to weather the storm on the Christina river in Wilmington.

The Kalmar Nyckel was in Chestertown, Maryland over the weekend to participate in the Sultana Projects’ Downrigging Weekend. It’s an annual tall ship and wooden boat festival.  On Friday, the crew was still participating in public sails while twenty crew members were also beginning storm preps. On Saturday, twenty-two crew members began the trip to sail the Nyckel back to Wilmington, Delaware, a trip that took about 14 hours to complete. 

During the storm, nine crew members stayed on board keeping watch, playing board games and making sure the ship stayed safe. Captain Lauren Morgens of the Kalmar Nyckel says, “The interesting thing about a hurricane is that ideally you spend a huge amount of energy and time getting the ship ready, and then once it’s all tied down and the storm starts, you just watch the rain fall and wind blow and hopefully you don’t have to do anything”.

For power, the crew of the Nyckel ran the ship’s generator.  As for food and water, the ship has the ability to store 700 gallons of fresh water and food for at least a week. The ship’s cook was able to keep the crew fed with fresh baked bread.  Captain Morgens said “As long as we can take good care of those mooring lines and keep the ship in one place, she is a comfortable place to be. The sheltered Christina River is as secure a place as we could ask for in a storm, we are grateful to the founders of the colony of New Sweden who chose such a great home for us back in 1638!”

Not everything came through unscathed, all of the non-floating buildings at the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard got several inches to a foot of water and are in the process of being cleaned.  

Tragedy strikes the H.M.S. Bounty

On Monday, October 29th the Coast Guard had to rescue 14 crew members from another tall ship, the H.M.S. Bounty, the ship was built for the 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty”.  42-year-old crew member Claudene Christianone died at a hospital and the ship’s captain Robin Walbridge is still missing.

Some members of the Kalmar Nyckel’s crew had previously served on the Bounty, and Captain Morgens said, “We knew that [The Bounty] was out, and we worried about her all night and of course when the news came we were all very upset about it.”

The Bounty was on its way from New London, Connecticut to Florida. “It’s early for me, I think nobody really knows yet what all the motivations were.  It probably isn’t the choice that I would have made for our ship and our crew to get underway, knowing there was a hurricane, but I can only really speak for us”, says the captain of the Kalmar Nyckel. 

Back to Business

As for the Nyckel, it’s back to business as usual, the ship hosts a school class from Pennsylvania on Friday for an education sail along the Christina River in Wilmington.  It’s sure to be a smoother ride than the crew of the Kalmar Nyckel had over the weekend.  

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