Posts Tagged ‘Tall sailing ship Kalmar Nyckel’


Thursday, June 27th, 2013
Runners in the Great Bay Run in Cape Charles VA registering to participate

Last Chance To Register To Compete In Cape Charles Tall Ship Festival’s Great Bay Run

Eagerly awaited with much anticipation, Saturday June 15, 2013 saw the little  Eastern Shore Virginia historic town of Cape Charles  abuzz with events from the town center to the outer reaches of the Harbor.  First off in the morning was The Great Bay Run, kick-off at 8:30. Organized by Blue Heron Realty Co. agent Eva Noonan and her friend Gary Hack, the Run was off to an early start by 7:30 am when participants could begin to sign in and receive their official PIB  badges for either the 1.25 mile fun walk/run or for the more serious folks, the 5k event.  Over 180 people registered, including kids of all ages, the young and young of heart, moms & dads pushing 3 wheel jogging strollers.  Up and down Mason Avenue, in the heart of  the Cape Charles historic area,  guys and gals of all shapes and sizes gathered in little groups, stretching ham strings, doing warm-up deep knee bends, trying to get ready for the Run, psyching up in anticipation of a hard final push needed to cross over “the Hump”, the steep  overpass above the railroad tracks near the finish line at the Marina.


Runners taking off from the  starting line for the Great Bay Run

Wooosh, They Are Off !

By 8:15 am, runners were lined up clear across the road at the corner of Harbor and Mason Avenues,  awaiting the starter’s gun to begin a course that would wind them down streets of Victorian and other historic homes, past views of sparkling sand dunes and shimmering blue Chesapeake Bay waters,  on out to the finish line at the new marina. Then wooosh, they were off and I slipped over to the Cape Charles Harbor  to await the first arrivals.   I’m proud to say that of the 7 Blue Heron agents and/or their family members who ran this event,  3 won first or second place in their age group– go Herons, go !   In line with being a carefully budgeted event, the donated trophies were  inscribed  antique bottles  and large shells– but  winners were  all proud smiles  as they accepted their unique prizes.  Everyone who finished the course got a colorful Great Bay Run T-Shirt as well as free after-the-race pizza and Coke to rebuild energy for the rest of the day’s fun. Race proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia Society and to Broadwater’s Track & Field Team.

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The sailing ship "Alliance" moored at the Cape Charles Harbor for the Tall Ships Festival

The “Alliance” berthed in Cape Charles for the 2013 Tall Ship Festival

Next up, a stroll through the marina to see the Tall Ships in the soft morning light– we had brought the grandkids down at sunset Friday evening to enjoy the music events scheduled for the Harbor stage  and view the ships, always interesting for young and old alike.  Although our old friend, the tall ship  Kalmar Nyckel, had earlier dropped in for an overnight anchorage, for the Festival weekend this year  Cape Charles was host to the 97 ft. Sultana, a replica of a 1768 British schooner whose job was to enforce the tea taxes prior  to the American Revolution, the 105 ft 3 masted schooner  Alliance and the 126 ft Virginia, a replica of a harbor  pilot boat used on the Bay in the early 1900’s.  No matter how many of  these replica ships I see I never cease to feel amazed that back in the day,   100 foot vessels like these routinely sailed  across stormy oceans with nothing between them and disaster but a skilled captain ( hopefully) and sheer luck– no auxiliary engine, no GPS mapping, no radar, no depth finder,  no marine weather service, no ship-to-shore radio and no rescue helicopters, just strong canvas sails, grit and determination. And a daily rum ration……  Each Festival ship offered deck tours as well as 2 hour day-sails out on the Chesapeake Bay, a great opportunity  for landlubbers and sailors alike to enjoy a taste of maritime history.  And the weather was so co-operative– cool temps, clear skies, steady breezes all weekend.

Brown Dog Ice Cream Shop in Cape Charles VA

A Crunchy Waffle Cone Filled With Brown Dog’s Lush Ice Cream Is Not To Be Missed

Good food and plenty of it, paired with lots of music, is part of the secret to a good festival and there was plenty of both in Cape Charles.  From BBQ ribs to Greek gyros,  deep dish pizza to “Aden’s Dawgs”,  washed down by everything from Kona ice to Bud Lite,  plenty of variety was available  to satisfy the ole taste buds.  The Shanty, a great new-as-of- last-year seafood restaurant right at the edge of the water at the marina,  was doing a landslide business. Huge platters of steamed hardshell crabs  accompanied by luscious grilled corn on the cob were zooming out of the kitchen at the speed of light,  I think the servers must have been wearing jet pacs they moved so fast !  Downtown, just a few minutes walk from the Harbor, Kelly’s Gingernut Pub was going full blast, the Cape  Charles Coffee House had extra tables outside for al fresco dining and the Hardware store was putting on a “bring your own hot dogs” BBQ bash  for friends and customers.  But the really, really big  smiles were coming from the folks leaving Brown Dog Ice Cream shop holding crunchy waffle cones stuffed full of the best ice cream I’ve had in a long time, made right on the premises. The only other thing I’ll say about Brown Dog  is that when you’re in town next, try a scoop of  their pina colada topped with a scoop of rum raisin.  Double yum !

A Colonial Village at Tall Ship Festival in Cape Charles VA

Colonial Village- Fun & Educational

But my favorite events were back at the Festival grounds where a very talented group from Raleigh, NC, Historic Interpretations, Inc. teamed up with a group  also from Raleigh, called the East Coast Pirate Crew, to set up a Colonial Village.  Dressed to “kill”, the  East Coast Pirates manned a ” pirate gear for sale” tent plus a tent featuring typical pirate weaponry as well as a display of the typical foodstuff found aboard a pirate ship, with members on hand interpreting same and offering samples of  the 17th century  on-board daily food staple called “hard tack”.  ( No grog offerings though, a true pirate wouldn ‘t stand for  that. )  Historic Interpretations program offerings were quite interesting, completely interactive, with all their members dressed in authentic period  costume, looking great.  The Village included a “typical Colonial kitchen” tent, complete with homemade strawberry and lemon cordials brewing, ( for which I got the recipe ), a games tent, herbs and medicines tent and 17th century “home ec” tent staffed by two very knowledgeable ladies who demonstrated weaving, embroidery , sewing and fashion tips of that era.

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A Pannier To Increase Hip Widith Appearance Under Colonial dresses

Just what every modern woman wants– a pannier to make her hips look wider !

Probably doesn’t sound that interesting but it was really fascinating. The ladies had a large hunk of what I thought was spun wool but which was actually flax ready to be spun, then woven into linen cloth, which they demonstrated on a tiny portable loom. Wow, no wonder most folks back in the day had only 2 sets of clothes– at the most.  Every woman had a ” housewife”, abbreviated to “hussif”, a cloth strip with multiple pockets on one side for important small implements such as scissors, pencil, glasses, etc., all expensive to replace. The hussif could then be rolled up tightly and stored in her sewing box which contained the rest of her sewing equipment. A typical box would hold lots of handmade sewing aids including a  wooden “egg” for darning, a lump of beeswax to stiffen thread, a thimble made of horn, soapstone to mark lines on cloth, a cloth tape measure wound up in a casing made of a large nut shell, hoops of various sizes,  and the list goes on and on.  And the fashion accessories were pretty interesting too. Corsets were laced up with a long metal instrument called a bodkin. And if you’ve ever wondered how Colonial ladies managed to have a slender waist but appear as if they were four feet wide from hip to hip, well it was thanks to a “pannier”, a very narrow belt with two short cloth barrelly things  hanging from each side to make the dress stand way out from the hips. Go figure !

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The Festival was all this and so much more.  Strolling musicians in town and at the Harbor, the Cape Charles Orchestra playing sea chanteys on Strawberry Street , sidewalk art,  a Golf Cart Scavenger Hunt, helicopter rides all day long,Coast Guard water safety program, artists and artisans galore with lovely items for sale, a great display by the Waterman’s Association,  an old time oyster “buy boat” at the marina. All capped off with the Pirates & Wenches Ball, everyone dressed in costume, dancing the night away, proceeds benefiting Cape Charles Central Park.   But  memories now–  but we do have Tall Ships Festival 2014 to look forward to.

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(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA. )

Cape Charles, VA., The Little Town that Could! And Did !

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Kalmar Nyckel attracts a romantic couple to Cape Charles, June 2011.Kalmar Nyckel shows her colors in Cape Charles, June 2011

A recent article in the paper brought back fond memories of  last June 8-12, 2012 when the little Town of Cape Charles, Virginia on Virginia’s Eastern Shore  hosted a big fleet of ships in its tiny deep-water harbor in celebration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the birth of the Star Spangled Banner. Attracted by this wonderfully varied armada, hundreds of thousands of visitors came from far and near to see this historic gathering of tall sailing ships from around the world, OpSail 2012, sailed into the Port of Hampton Roads, Virginia. In concert with the cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Hampton VA, the people of Northampton County and the Towns of Eastville and Cape Charles had spent the better part of a year planning their celebrations of these historic events.

These amazing tall sailing ships began arriving in the lower part of the Chesapeake Bay a week early and the new Cape Charles harbor marina was included in the event, hosting  the visits of three sailing ships – schooners Lynx, Appledore III, and Sultana – as well as the US Navy patrol craft Zephyr, and a harbor full of pleasure and commercial watercraft. Against the backdrop of Cape Charles downtown mini-skyline, the harbor full of these schooners  presented a beautiful site for a festival of the first magnitude.

Planning for the event in Cape Charles called for the coordination of nearly every element of our community, private, business and public. Our own David Kabler from the Cape Charles office of Blue Heron Realty Co. had envisioned for many years the welcoming of tall sailing ships into the Harbor of Refuge in Cape Charles.  This bicentennial celebration offered him the perfect opportunity to demonstrate to the Eastern Shore community the power of tall ships in stimulating our economy. Beginning in February of 2011, David presented to the county government leaders and the leading economic powers of the Eastern Shore his Tall Ships Economic Development Initiative for the attraction of the tall ship industry. The first part of the plan called for our community’s participation in OpSail 2012 and afterwards an ongoing effort to attract tall ships throughout the year. Such an effort has proven to stimulate an host locality’s economy, tourism, education, community organization and infrastructure improvements, and during OpSail 2012 the Eastern Shore was no exception to this rule. The plan was readily adopted and publicly funded, setting into motion an organization of our community’s assets like we have never seen before.
In June, 2011, Blue Heron Realty sponsored our first tall ship visitor, Kalmar Nyckel, arguably the
queen of the tall ship fleet. She hails from Wilmington, DE, and is a replica of the 17th century Dutch trading ship that brought the first Swedish settlers to the area of Cape Henlopen, DE. The arrival of Kalmar Nyckel to the town harbor heralded the beginning of a remarkable weeklong visit that brought thousands of school children, tourists, and Eastern Shore residents to town. They toured the ship,  learning about 17th century transportation technology and nautical life and even taking sail charters aboard her out into the Chesapeake Bay. Government and business leaders throughout the County attended the ship that weekend to see first hand how remarkable such a ship is and how attractive she is to people of all ages and walks of life. To complement her visit, an anonymous donor generously sponsored the attendance of Queen Elizabeth I’s court, Historic Interpretations from Raleigh NC, replete with five Elizabethan tents populated by an entire troop of actors dressed in beautiful period costumes. Children came to the queen’s tent to be knighted, activities  of the 16th century were re-enacted, demonstrations of dance, games, food, and armour of the period were performed,  all set up in the new park in the center of town, appropriately called now Central Park.
After the excitement of the visit of Kalmar Nyckel died down, serious planning took hold for our community’s participation in OpSail 2012. More than thirty people, representing town and county governmental departments, local business organizations, and volunteers, began meeting monthly to organize what promised to be the largest festival ever held in Cape Charles.  Funding from Northampton County and the Town of Cape Charles provided seed money for grant applications that, together with generous private and commercial sponsorships, supported the wonderful concepts that made the Cape Charles Tall Ship Festival so special.  The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel offered organizers the use of the second island for public viewing of the spectacle of the Parade of Sail of the international fleet of tall sailing ships. The Bay Coast Railroad lent the use of their historic railyards for accomodating the many vendors and Historic Interpretations’ Elizabethan village. Cape Charles Town harbor generously offered the tall ships dockage at its brand new marina facility of floating piers. All of the schools of Northampton County participated in the Adopt-a-Ship program hosting the ships’ crews when they arrived at receptions and special events in their honor. Staging was erected for live music bands and food vendors of all sorts set up shop next to the docks. Hundreds of volunteers were organized by the Cape Charles Rotary for parking, transportation  and maning of the information centers around town. It is estimated that ten thousand people came to the four day event called Tall Ships at Cape Charles! You can imagine what kind of economic impact such attendance generates in a county of only about 13,000, in a town of  around 1,000.

Kalmar Nyckel shows her colors in Cape Charles, June 2011

Lasting impressions about our town, our county and our community were carried far and wide by the many visitors who left amazed by the wonderful scene of tall ships sailing in and out of the Cape Charles harbor. Months of public relations work generated huge interest in our event. Advertising on the highways, in printed publications and on the internet in websites and social media contributed untold benefits. All this together works long and hard towards establishing an identity for our community that will carry us forward for increased tourism, higher education, community cohesiveness and future improvements to the Eastern Shore of Virginia  in general. Now, due to the success of our participation in OpSail 2012, Northampton County has again funded the effort to attract the tall ship industry in their 2012-13 budget planning! And Blue Heron Realty is proud to say that we were the driving force behind the whole kit and caboodle!

Celebrating Op Sail 2012 On The Eastern Shore of Virginia- Part I, The Parade of Sail

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Op Sail 2012 was a big shebang, very big, celebrated in the US in the ports of  New York, New Orleans,  Norfolk,  Baltimore, New London and Boston.   Organized around the Bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner,  the 2012 event is  6th  Operation Sail event.   Kicked off in 1964,  Op Sail was the culmination of worldwide efforts by the late maritime historian Frank Braynard and IBM executive  Nils Hansell to create an event designed to  foster international  goodwill by bringing together sailing ships from nations from all corners of the globe  to gather for  a fabulous parade of sail into New York harbor.  And so  in conjunction with the New York World’s Fair,  Op Sail was born, an instant huge success  which has been followed up by 5 additional Op Sail events, each tied to an  American historical event, each bigger and better than the last.  But Op Sail 2012  seems to have been the most spectacular of them all, especially in Virginia,  where the event was expanded for the first time to include not only the traditional port of Norfolk but also several small nearby ports including Cape Charles as part of the Tall Ships at Cape Charles Festival as well as the port of  Onancock on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Fortunately for those of us who live on the Eastern Shore, one of the main events of the entire festival is the “Parade of Sail“,  the magnificentfive mile long  flotilla  featuring of  scores of  international tall ships accompanied by military vessels from the US Navy and Coast Guard as well as literally  hundreds of local sail and power boats,  streaming across the water, escorting the international ships  to the tall ship’s main anchorages in downtown Norfolk and Portsmouth.  The ships overnighted in near Lesner Bridge in Virginia Beach and at dawn  prepared to parade from the Lynnhavenanchorage,  through the mouthof  the Chesapeake Bay and up the Elizabeth River  into Norfolk, a  spectacular fleet  which, if all the ships were placed end to end, would be an amazing 7700 feet long !

Happily, this Parade involves  passing  directly over the  first tunnel of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel which connects the Eastern Shore of Virginia to the city of Virginia Beach on the mainland !   Which meant that tickets to view from both the first and second Bridge Islands were available for this one-of-a-kind show and we were lucky enough to get  two tickets for the closest Island, One  Island at Thimble Shoal, rather than for Two  Island without  restaurant and restroom facilities.  So even though we are not normally crack-of-dawn people, by 5:30 am on the day, we were up and scurrying around,  grabbing hats, sun screen, a tiny cooler for water, binoculars, all the little comfort things, getting on the road before 6.  Seating was on a first-come basis and we were  hoping to get a front row seat on the bleachers, which, amazingly,  we were able to do  !

The day was simply beautiful- a sunrise of pinks and peach, cloudless sky, good breezes all morning long ( thank heavens, hard to sail without the wind gods behind you), water sparkling, everyone on the Island in sky-high spirits, thrilled to be there for this special, once in a decade or so, event.  The Parade was kicked off by the US Coast Guard ship, the USS Eagle. The 295 foot Eagle has an interesting history having been built in Germany, launched in 1939 as the SSS Horst Wessel,  but ending up in the possession of the United States after WWII as part of German war reparations.  A training ship for  Coast Guard cadets and a goodwill ambassador  for the US,  the aptly named Eagle gleamed in the morning sun, her 22,000 square feet of  white sails billowing,  proud as a mother swan with all her cygnets streaming along  behind her although probably those magnificent ships behind her might not like the comparison.

The announcer for the nearly 3 hour program was  Captain Sara Cole, commander of the Learning Barge. ( The Learning Barge was, of course, not in the Parade but it is a fascinating vessel in its own right. Winner of several national awards including one from the EPA,  this vessel was hand built over 3 years as a project between  the University of Virginia School of Architecture and the Elizabeth River Project, a local environmental group.  The Learning Barge is essentially a floating lab where students can sample water quality, identify pollution, learn about restoration of wetlands, grow algae, learn about sustainability, all hands-on. )  At any rate, Capt. Cole had amassed a great deal of information about each of the tall ships and military vessels participating in the Parade.

Thus I learned several new nautical terms including “dressing ship”  which she indicated means just what it sounds like- dressing  the ship to the nines, no diamonds or rubys  included there,  just every signal flag flying, weighted, an array of colors and symbols adorning these dramatic  ships, many like the Eaglefunctioning  as training ships and goodwill ambassadors for their countries.  Several Navy ships participated,  including  a helicopter escorted US submarine which was the concluding boat in the Parade.   From the US,  several well-known tall sailing ships including replias of the Bounty and Godspeed, the amazing Kalmar Nyckel from Delaware and the Pride of Baltimore as well as the 3 ships destined for Cape Charles, the Lynx, the Appledore and the Sultana.  In addition to  ships  from the US,  from Indonesia, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Spain, the Cook Islands, Bermuda, Germany, Canada, Denmark and the United Kingdom they sailed,  already having visited New York and New Orleans.  After the visit in Virginia, the longest visit of all, the fleet would be off to Baltimore, Boston and New London. And there they would no doubt wow their audiences,  just as all of us out on Thimble Shoal’s One Island that lovely summer morning  were thrilled by the 2012 Op Sail’s  Parade of Sail, serenely crossing  the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

Cape Charles Hosts An Elizabethan Faire

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Lord Robert Dudley, High Chancellor of England, and his Court

The citizens of  the Eastern Shore of Virginia woke up the week-end of June 4-5, 2011  with not only the tall masts of Kalmar Nyckel dominating the skyline of  the Cape Charles harbor but also with the tents of an authentic Elizabethan Faire set up in the Town’s  beautiful and spacious Central Park.  What a perfect setting for a historic reenactment camp right out of the sixteenth century!  To celebrate  and compliment  the visit of  Delaware’s official tall ship ambassador, Kalmar Nyckel, the historic coastal Town of Cape Charles hosted the visit of   “Historic Interpretations”  from Raleigh, North Carolina. They are a group of actors, historians, craftsmen, and educators who demonstrate in incredible detail what life was like 500 years ago in an Elizabethan village.





Sir Brandon being knighted by the Lord High Chancellor of England

The day dawned bright and sunny with tangy, refreshing breezes blowing off the Chesapeake Bay.  And as the day progressed, visitors from far and near made their way to  the  Faire and quickly found themselves involved in playing games, dancing, trying on armour, hefting weapons, and admiring the great detail of reproduction of the time period of 1585, or thereabouts, the height of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in England. I brought to the Faire my grown children and grandsons. When I visited the tent of Lord Robert Dudley, the High Chancellor of England, he was so impressed with my son and grandsons that he knighted them all! Now, I have to call them Sir John, Sir Brandon, Sir Charlie, and Sir Ryan, and do their bidding whenever it pleases them – big mistake!

My “Sir” Knights then lead me by the collar around the Park’s field to another tent that sheltered the Armoury. There, to my huge surprise, were racks of weapons from the 16th century – long bows and arrows, 10′ long pikes, and other implements you cannot imagine, all of which could do serious damage to an opponent on the battlefield or the jousting.

Sir Brandon ready for battle!

arena! Suited up for battle there stood a soldier straight out of antiquity! Helmet, breastplate, chain mail … I tapped on his chest and rapped on his head much to the detriment of my poor knuckles!  That armour sure is good stuff! My little knight needed some shining armour, so I asked the good soldier in attendance to fix him up. And with Sir Brandon being now officially knighted and all, the soldier had no choice but do his bidding.

Then on to the Tavern tent, stocked with good victuals and brew, and furnished with collapsible wooden tables and chairs from the Elizabethan period. Gathered around the tables were the prettiest Ladies- in- Waiting, beckoning me to play a game of chess or checkers.  It didn’t take long at all for Sir John, Sir Charlie, and Sir Brandon to get into the spirit of things and we all broke out in rollicking songs, timeless sea chanteys and Irish tavern tunes.  Next thing I knew, the ladies had pulled us out of the Tavern and we were dancing on the Green,  stepping lively around in a circle with our hands on our hips, twirling and swinging our partners here and there and everywhere!

Catching my breath finally, I broke free and followed my knights further around the Green for some refreshment and relaxation. What a wonderful opportunity to learn about the habits and dress and language of the Elizabethans at the time that Sir Walter Raleigh sent his ships across the Atlantic to establish the first English settlements in America, including the historic settlements on the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  home to the oldest continuous court records in the US.   I heard talk that this troupe loves Cape Charles so much that next year they plan on bringing Queen Elizabeth and her whole court !   Really looking forward to that !





Kalmar Nyckel– Part 2, The Day Sail. She Sails The Ocean Blue, This Saucy Ship Of Beauty.

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Kalmar Nyckel

Waiting To Board Kalmar Nyckel

As part of  her 5  day stay in the Cape Charles harbor,  the tall ship Kalmar Nyckel offered several opportunites for the public to board the ship for deck tours as well as four different day sail trips for up to 49 passengers per trip out into the Chesapeake Bay.  We had selected  the Sunday  10:30 am  time slot for our sail but Sunday dawned dark andovercast, skies threatening a serious downpour at any time.  The Eastern Shore  definitely needs some rain so I didn’t feel but so bad but  hoped it would clear up in time for the trip which included  my husband, daughter, son-in-law and youngest granddaughter as well as myself.  But when we arrived at the dock the crew informed everyone in line on the pier  that the Captain was still monitoring the weather to decide if it would be a go or no-go.   Fortunately it began to clear and  the crew allowed us to board, everyone excited to sail on a ship which is a faithful reproduction of  an early 1600’s Dutch pinnace.  Boasting  about 8 miles of rigging,  three enormous masts and nearly 7,000 sq.ft. of  sail, the Kalmar Nyckel is a most impressive ambassador of goodwill for the state of Delaware.  It is near what is now Wilmington that her namesake first landed, on behalf of the Swedish Crown naming  the area “New Sweden”,  the first of four round trips she would make from Sweden to “New Sweden”  before she was refitted as a warship in 1638.

Heave, Ho ! Hoisting The Top Sails

It didn’t take long to get underway.  Her big diesel engines fired up, ( no, they didn’t have engines in the 1600’s  but hey, some things are too important to do without,  even in a faithful reproduction),  many orders issued from the bridge to the crew,  mooring lines were cast off and away we went for our 2 1/2 hour adventure. As we left the Cape Charles harbor, 5 or 6  yachts leaving the Bay Creek Marina waved as  they passed, surprised I’m sure to see this ornate beauty in their home waters.  As the ship got further out into the Bay the winds started picking up and the crew made ready to hoist the sails,  enlisting the help of  passenger volunteers to do so.  First came the instructions, terms like  “avast”, “ease” and “haul” were demonstrated and practiced.  Then it was time to hoist  the topsails, the main top and the fore top, and this was done just as in the days of yore,  pulling to the rhythm of an old sea chantey, in this case a tune called “Bully On The Deck”  which has a rather captivating beat. ( I found out later that the term “bully” in sailor parlance means inebriated. )   The winds were with us and the sails filled nicely,  speeding us along.

Man overboard drill

Impromptu “Man Overboard” Drill

It was the wind, blowing pretty well by then,  which initiated an inpromptu little training drill much to the surprise of both the crew andpassengers.  I was on the upper deck,  standing just behind the Captain,  taking some photos when a gust  swept  a wide-brimmed straw hat right off a crew member’s head and sailed it smack into the water.  When the Captain saw that she decided right then and there to conduct an unscheduled  “man overboard”  drill.  In a matter of seconds alarms sounded,  crew moved into various positions,  on the upper deck  “spotters'”  grabbed binoculars and trained them on the hat,  job one being to keep the “man”   in sight at all times, especially difficult to do as the ship begins its  turn back towards the overboard area.  On the lower deck,  crew threw out life preservers which in the event of a real problem are an effort to send  a number of  flotation devices out towards the victim in hopes that one will be grabbed.  All passengers on the lower deck were  asked to move towards the bow.  The rubber Zodiak , which is secured to the stern,  was lowered into the water, engine started and the 2nd mate and another crew member set out for the  rescue.  Meantime,  designated crew members were busy counting passengers, counting crew and talleying numbers to make sure everyone was accounted for,  that only one  “man”  had gone overboard.   All of this was done  quickly and efficiently,  the Captain issuing rapid orders, crew quickly carrying them out.   Unfortunately,  the hat drowned.  But the drill came off very well,  the Captain being quite pleased with the opportunity to carry off a surprise drill  and the passengers excited to participate and see how well it all worked.  The Zodiak was resecured at  the stern and  the journey continued on.

Steering the Kalmar Nyckel

Helmswoman Ellen Carter At The Whipstaff

On the homeward leg I had the opportunity to talk a bit to Ellen Carter who is in her fourth season of volunteering on the Kalmar Nyckel.   She was at the helm,  steering a course back to the Cape Charles harbor, keeping one eye on the whipstaff, another on the modern electronic depthfinder and course charter,  ears perked  for the Captain to issue orders but still able to tell me a bit about the ship and life on-board.   The helm on the Kalmar Nyckelis not the  big round wheel that one traditionally thinks of– rather, it is a 6-7 ft. long pole, about  4-5 inches in diameter,  called a “whipstaff”.  Connecting through a yoke into the tiller, which in turn moves the ship’s rudder, it’s  called a whipstaff because a sudden, unexpected movement of the rudder will cause it to whip to one side or the other with great momentum– definitely don’t want to daydream on  helms watch !  Ellen told me that the rudder weighes about 3200 pounds but that even though a lot of force may be needed to push the whipstaff in one direction or another, because of its length,  the helmsperson has about  40 to 1 mechanical leverage.  Otherwise it would take Godzilla to steer the ship !   And to think that they had all of that all figured out in the early 1600’s !

Captain and Mate speak

Aye, Aye Captain

I was interested in the day-to-day aspects of life on board. Ellen indicated that topside Kalmar Nyckel  is a faithful reproduction of her namesake but that below decks the crew has pretty comfortable modern quarters.  The Captain, 1st and 2nd Mates and Steward are paid crew, on board for about 8 months of the year and have their own quarters.  10 bunks off the galley and 10 more off the saloon  provide spaces for the rest of the approximately 12-20 person crew ( depending on the venue) which is all- volunteer. According to Ellen the food is very good and the cook tries to cater to special diets-i.e., vegan, Kosher, etc., plus  there is plenty of good strong coffee  and  even bundt cake for dessert sometimes.   The days of hard tack with  a dram of rum are apparently long gone !   Too, too  soon we were dousing the sails and heading into the channel,  the journey was about over but the memories will linger on.


(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)


Kalmar Nyckel- She Sails The Ocean Blue, This Saucy Ship Of Beauty- Part 1, The Reception

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Tall ship Kalmar Nyckel arrives in Cape Charles

Kalmar Nyckel Arrives In Cape Charles

Anyone who loves Gilbert and Sullivan and sees this beautiful tall sailing ship will immediately think of the song  “She Sails The Ocean Blue”  from “H.M.S. Pinafore”  because  this saucy ship’s definitely a beauty and as a reproduction  of  a grand Dutch pinnace  which made four round trips from Sweden to “New Sweden”  (Delaware) in the mid-1600’s,  she sails the oceans blue.   Sponsored in part by Blue Heron Realty Co.  and as part of  the  Tall Ships Initiative of  Cape Charles and Northampton County  (which was  the brainchild of  David Kabler,  broker for  Blue Heron’s  Cape Charles office )  the  Kalmar Nyckel arrived in the deep water Cape Charles harbor on June  2nd and settled right in for a 5 day celebration of  her eagerly awaited trip to  the Eastern Shore of Virginia,  including a Friday evening  on-board reception to be given by Blue Heron Realty Co.  (Click to enlarge the small photos.)


Even the weather co-operated beautifully-  early in the week it had been quite warm,  high temps about 90 but thankfully the wee hours of  Friday morning brought  a cold front  and the day dawned in the low 60’s with refreshing breezes all day long.  I was so relieved because in my role as Chief Cook & Bottle Washer  for Blue Heron’s on-board reception from 6:30 to 8:30 that  evening ,  my biggest worry all along  had been how to keep cold hors d’oeuvres  cold on a warm evening, on deck ,  with no real refrigeration and precious little shade.  We were, of course,  already prepared with lots of  big coolers and special serving trays with ice reservoirs underneath but still, I was really delighted that the high would be only in the  mid-70’s !


The evening kicked off about 6pm with an official  Welcoming Ceremony which included the Northampton County High School Band, presentation of the colors by the Coast Guard,  remarks by Cape Charles Mayor Dora Sullivan  and presentation of  a huge gift basket for Captain Lauren Morgan and her crew.  Then it was  on-board for Blue Heron’s  reception which proved to be a merry time indeed.  The invitations had gone out with Colonial or pirate attire as an optional dress code,  just to spice things up a bit.  Period attire was another of Dave’s ideas ( well, truth be told, Dave had hoped for mandatory but settled for optional )  and it added a lot of  entertainment to the evening.  The Kalmar Nyckel crew also wore their Colonial garb adding to the over-all ambience but I must say that the top prize for guys for the evening  ( had there been one ) would have gone  to local Eastville attorney Bert Turner,  usually seen in a sharp suit and crisp dress shirt,  whose flowing wig,  rakish hat and fancy garb  transformed him so completely into a  fashionable Colonial  pirate  it seemed as if  he had truly just stepped out of  a time machine.  A number of the the ladies had really wonderful costumes as well,  including Irene Henderson,  Sandy Mayer,  Susan Kovacs,  Dianne Appell,  Ann Walker  and  Carol Russ.  Even Cape Charles Town Council members  Bruce Evans and Joan Natali as well as  County Supervisor Spenser Murray got into the Colonial garb spirit,  wearing  period vests,  blouses and breeches.


And if I do say so myself,  the food turned out quite well too.  Planned and executed by Blue Heron’s  “Reception Committee”   headed up by Gerry Forbes and rounded out by Lisa Anderson and Kay Lewis,  these ladies planned and put together an attractive and tasty  array of cold appetizers  including a beautiful centerpiece fruit tray of 3 different types of melons, 3 different types of grapes,  some lusciously ripe Hawaiian pineapple and picture-perfect strawberries, then garnished with kiwi,  cherries and blackberries.   Flanking the fruit tray on either side were trays of assorted cheeses plus bread bowls filled with a most tasty humus as well as chopped spiced tomatoes for bruchetta complimented by  a large relish tray of mixed olives with marinated mushrooms and artichoke hearts.  But the most popular item seemed  to be the mini sweet potato biscuits stuffed with country ham,  the contrast of the sweetness of the biscuits and the saltiness of the ham was absolutely perfect and a great accompaniment to the fruit and cheeses.  Early on in the planning stages we did an office wine tasting lunch to decide on the wines, ( yup, everyone  somehow  managed to  just  “happen”  to be at the office at lunchtime that day !  )   A unanimous vote chose a  fruity rose’  sparking wine as the  favorite,  with a dry white sparking wine a close second.  These were served along with Samuel Adams light summer ale on draft which proved quite popular as well.


Entertainment was provided  by the very, very  talented duo of  Carol Russ  on  accordian and Malcolm Russ  on  violin,  whose wide ranging repertoire included many  popular songs like  Red Sails In The Sunset   to  about 15 robust choruses  of What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor   vocalized by  Dave Kabler together with the Kalmar Nyckel’s  Captains  Lauren Morgan and  Sharon Litcofsky.  I personally think that the right music can help make or break an evening and the  Russ’  performance was great,  it added so much to the over-all ambience.  A pleasant summer’s eve,  a light breeze blowing,  laughter here and there,  pleasant conversation all around,  good food and wine,  all on-board such a unique venue, a beautiful tall sailing ship.  But because the Kalmar Nyckel  has no real lights on deck,  by previous agreement,  the Captain needed  guests to depart before 9pm,  so too soon it was over.   Malcolm and Carol  played that very beautiful song made famous by Sarah Brightman some years back,  Time To Say Goodbye  and with that  we  all said our good night’s and goodbye’s but those of us at Blue Heron won’t soon forget this special evening.

(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)

A Quick Trip To Lewes, Delaware To Check Out The Tall Sailing Ship “KALMAR NYCKEL”

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
Kalmar Nyckel Tall Sailing Ship At Her Berth In Lews Delaware

The Tall Ship “Kalmar Nyckel” At Her Lewes, Delaware Berth

Saturday before last was a very pleasant day,  spent with my husband driving  round trip to Lewes, Delaware  to check out the on-board facilities of the tall sailing ship,  the  Kalmar Nyckel  which is currently  moored at the Lewes Ferry Terminal.  In June she is making a  5  day stay at the deep water  harbor in Cape Charles, VA.  Lots of great activities have been planned around her arrival including a private on-board reception given by Blue Heron Realty Co.,  which is one of the principal  sponsors of  her trip to Cape Charles.   Having been advised that space is very tight,  on the  “better safe than sorry”  theory,  I decided that in preparation for the reception I should see the physical set-up and measure the spaces the ship has to offer well in advance.   And I am sooooo glad I did !   Communication is an amazing thing,  involving bringing one’s own frame of reference  into the equation.  So what I had envisioned as “tight”  didn’t compare to the reality at all.   When translated to space on a sailboat,   of course I already knew  that   “tight”  actually means almost no room whatsoever.  But I had envisioned that it would be quite different on the 143 foot  Kalmar Nyckel —   not at all !   There is no room to set up tables for food or beverages so it was clear that we will  have to make do with  the ship’s various built-ins– the Captain suggested serving beverages from a small chart box in the stern,  food from a flat surfaced 6 ft. by 4 ft. low cabinet near the bow ( which the crew has nicknamed “the doghouse” ),  a real challenge which would have been even more  so on the day had I not previewed  it in advance.  So,  really glad  we made that  5 hour round trip drive to Lewes.  Plus we had time to stop and tour the Lewes Lifesaving Station which was very interesting and then had one of the best brick oven pizzas ever at a little Italian restaurant in Fenwick Island called Mancini’s,  so not all work and no play.

A word or two on the history of the  Kalmar Nyckel.   According to a very informative little book entitled “Mallets, Chisels & Planes”  written by Charles Ireland, Jr., the original  Kalmar Nyckel was used as a merchant ship, an exploration vessel and finally as a warship.   Built by the Dutch in the late 1620’s,  in 1637  she was selected for a special voyage  by the Swedish Crown,  the purpose of which was to explore and colonize  the New World, i.e., North America. She arrived in “New Sweden”  ( now the state of Delaware)  in 1629 and there her passengers established a colony and built a fort.  In 1645 she was re-commissioned  as a warship after having made three more voyages to “New Sweden”.   350 years later a group formed with the express purpose of  creating a foundation to replicate the  Kalmar Nyckel  using  basically the same shipbuilding methods and tools that were used to construct her namesake.  One of the biggest challenges by far was to pull together an architect and the skilled craftsmen with the dedication and capability  to successfully undertake such an arduous and complicated endeavor.

Poster of the events in Cape Charles, VA

Cape Charles Events Schedule

Starting with locating an old shipyard on the banks of the Christina River near Wilmington,  Delaware,  close to the 1638  landing site of the original vessel,  then converting it to become what a 17th century shipyard would have been,  the  Kalmar Nyckel Foundation gathered together volunteers and financial backers plus  an enthusiastic  team of shipwrights and  blacksmiths, sail makers and riggers from all over the globe who were interested in becoming  part of  this  faithful reproduction including her 8 miles of rigging and very ornate decorations and figurehead.   The rest,  as they say,  is history.  And so the first week of June,  this amazing ship,  considered to be the queen of  modern day  tall ship reproductions,  will for the first time sail proudly into the Cape Charles harbor where she will be most heartily welcomed by Dora Sullivan,  Mayor of Cape Charles and other dignataries prior to  Blue Heron’s private reception.   Over that week-end,  the  Foundation is offering tickets for 4 different sailing trips into the Chesapeake Bay of  about 2 1/2 hours each , which should be lots of fun,  as well as offering public tours on the following Monday.   So if you’re nearby, come on down and see what a tall sailing ship from the early 1600’s looks like,  she is  a pretty dramatic and interesting sight,  well worth coming to take a tour.


(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134  Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)