On March 29, 1638 two tall ships flying Swedish colors sailed up the South (Delaware) River and into the Minquis Kill (Christina River). They traveled about a mile up the Minquis Kill to a rock ledge that formed a natural, deep-water landing. Here the two ships anchored and a small band of settlers went ashore to establish a Swedish presence in the New World. The ships were the Kalmar Nyckel and her sister ship, the Fogel Grip, more than one hundred days out of Gothenburg, Sweden. The settlers built a fort called Christina and established a flourishing colony on the north bank of the river at a site that much later would become a part of the city of Wilmington, Delaware. The Kalmar Nyckel made an extraordinary and unprecedented four round trips between Europe and the New World, an accomplishment unmatched by any other colonial vessel and a credit to the skill and devotion of her Dutch builders and the seamanship of her captain and crew.
Nearly 350 years after that first landing, a small but determined group of citizens had a vision of one day recreating the Kalmar Nyckel. What began as a dream soon became a passion to reconstruct a seventeenth-century wooden tall ship as close to the original as possible, using as many of the seventeenth-century shipbuilding skills, tools and methods as they could. It was a tall order for a tall ship and there were many questions to be addressed. Not the least of which was could twentieth- century Delaware muster the artisans; the skills and the backing needed to fulfill the dream.
Mallets, Chisels and Planes is the story of the dream of a tall ship reborn. It traces the building and rebirth of the Kalmar Nyckel as Delaware's tall ship ambassador. It is as much about the artisans, the skills and the emotions that are the heart and soul of wooden-boat building as it is the ship itself.
The book takes the reader on a journey through the time-honored process of wooden-boat building as seen through the eyes of a volunteer wood carver and member of the building crew. The richly illustrated text describes the sights, sounds, smells and emotions of the building process that took place on the banks of Wilmington's Christina River very close to the site o(the original Kalmar Nyckel's landing in 1638. The book includes a brief history of the Kalmar Nyckel and its unique place in the history of the colonization of the Delaware Valley as well as a description of shipbuilding hand tools that have survived the centuries virtually unchanged.
Wooden boats are much more than the materials from which they are built. They are the embodiment of the skill, devotion and unconditional love of the shipwrights, the carvers, the riggers, the sail makers, the blacksmiths, the caulkers and all the people who appreciate a fair hull, a full sail and a stout ship. On September 28, 1997, Delaware proudly launched its beautiful new tall ship, Kalmar Nyckel. Mallets, Chisels and Planes is a tribute to the dreamers, the craftsmen and women, and the people of Delaware who helped make a dream a reality.
Today the Kalmar Nyckel serves as Delaware's tall ship ambassador sailing to ports along the east coast from Maine to Virginia to participate in educational, promotional, historical and commemorative events.
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