The Kalmar Nyckel Foundation is a maritime-based educational organization that demonstrates the values of trust, teamwork and self discipline by offering the public opportunities to participate in programs centered on the building, sailing and preservation of Delaware's tall ship ambassador, the Kalmar Nyckel.
The original Kalmar Nyckel was one of America's pioneering colonial ships. Its historical significance rivals that of the Mayflower, yet her remarkable story has never been widely told.
It sailed from Sweden to the New World in 1638 leaving its passengers to establish the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley, the Colony of New Sweden in present-day Wilmington, Delaware. She made a total of four roundtrip crossings of the Atlantic—more than any other ship of the era. Her first voyage to the New World left 24 settlers of Swedish, Finnish, German and Dutch descent in the Delaware Valley. Joining them was a black freedman who sailed from the Caribbean aboard her companion ship the Fogel Grip.
The present day Kalmar Nyckel serves as Delaware’s seagoing goodwill ambassador. She was built by a group of committed citizens to be a continuing witness to the courage and spirit of those individuals who undertook the mid-winter North Atlantic crossing in 1637-1638.
Since 1998, the ship has served as an outreach platform for the State of Delaware and a catalyst for social and economic development. The ship provides a unique platform for the Foundation’s educational programming as well as a venue for diplomatic, recreational, governmental and commemorative functions. The ship is owned and operated by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers people of all ages a variety of sea and land based learning and recreational experiences.