Tall ships are coming. Here’s everything you need to know about Sail Portsmouth 2022

·8 min read

PORTSMOUTH — Sail Portsmouth returns to the city Aug. 11-16, bringing tall ships to the city for the first time since 2019. The festival was cancelled for the past two years due to COVID-19, but is making a comeback this summer with three historic tall ships to tour and sail.

Sail Portsmouth, formerly known as the Piscataqua Maritime Commission, has been around for 25 years and is dedicated to educating young people about sailing and giving them life-changing opportunities through its Sea Challenge Program, which is largely funded by proceeds from the Sail Portsmouth festival.

“It's not every day that you can go aboard a tall ship in Portsmouth. It's a great time to take advantage of it,” said Phil Von Hemert, chairman of Sail Portsmouth. “And since we didn't have it the last few years. I imagine that there's going to be an awful lot of people there.”

Sail Portsmouth board members talk about the details of the tall ships' arrival in August at the Portsmouth Commercial Fish Pier across from Prescott Park where two tall ships will be docked during the Sail Portsmouth Festival. From left are John Considine, Phil Von Hemert and Rick Considine.
Sail Portsmouth board members talk about the details of the tall ships' arrival in August at the Portsmouth Commercial Fish Pier across from Prescott Park where two tall ships will be docked during the Sail Portsmouth Festival. From left are John Considine, Phil Von Hemert and Rick Considine.

“A lot of people have missed it, because they are so used to coming to it and it's really a lot of fun,” said Nita Libby, treasurer of the organization. “So, we're just hoping that they're all ready to get out and do that again.” Tickets for the tours and sails are quickly selling out so be sure to visit sailportsmouth.org to secure a spot.

When and where is the Parade of Sail?

The Parade of Sail where the tall ships sail up the Piscataqua River to Portsmouth, will take place on Thursday, Aug. 11 starting at 10:15 a.m.

Tall ships: Sail Portsmouth festival to return in 2022. Here's what to expect.

The arrival of the tall ships marks the beginning of the festival and is typically accompanied by an array of private and public boats following behind the tall ships. The ships begin at the mouth of the Piscataqua River and end up at the Memorial Bridge.

Which tall ships are coming?

The ships that will be showcased this year are the Kalmar Nyckel, the Spirit of Bermuda, and the Lynx.

The Kalmar Nyckel is one of three tall ships scheduled to appear at Sail Portsmouth’s Parade of Sail on Thursday, Aug. 11. It is a full-rigged replica of the vessel that brought the first Swedish colonists to America in 1638. Courtesy photo
The Kalmar Nyckel is one of three tall ships scheduled to appear at Sail Portsmouth’s Parade of Sail on Thursday, Aug. 11. It is a full-rigged replica of the vessel that brought the first Swedish colonists to America in 1638. Courtesy photo

The Kalmar Nyckel is a replica by the same name of the ship that brought the first Swedish colonists to America in 1638. These colonists were known for founding the colony of New Sweden which ultimately became Delaware. This fully-rigged ship has a blue hull and employs all of the modern safety and navigation equipment as well as an engine which the 1638 vessel did not have. She is owned by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation out of Wilmington, Delaware.

The Spirit of Bermuda is one of three tall ships scheduled to visit for Sail Portsmouth this August. It is a three-masted vessel and a replica of the British answer to the fast, agile Baltimore privateers.
The Spirit of Bermuda is one of three tall ships scheduled to visit for Sail Portsmouth this August. It is a three-masted vessel and a replica of the British answer to the fast, agile Baltimore privateers.

The Spirit of Bermuda is a three-masted replica of the Bermuda Sloops that were used by the British in the War of 1812. What makes these original ships so remarkable, is that they were the first ships to possess the innovation of a Marconi rig sail – the typical triangular shaped sail that is seen on ships today. The Spirit of Bermuda showcases these sails as well. Bermuda Sloops were in peacetime, used for shipping goods across the ocean. In wartime, they were used as privateers, such as in the War of 1812 when they attacked American privateers. The Spirit of Bermuda is owned by the Bermuda Sloop Foundation based in Hamilton, Bermuda and will be captained by Alex Peacock, who hails from Newmarket..

The Lynx is one of three tall ships scheduled to appear at Sail Portsmouth’s Parade of Sail on Thursday, Aug. 11, and participate in the festival Aug. 12 to 14. The vessel is a topsail schooner that is a replica of the Baltimore designed and built American privateers that were so successful against British merchant ships in the War of 1812.
The Lynx is one of three tall ships scheduled to appear at Sail Portsmouth’s Parade of Sail on Thursday, Aug. 11, and participate in the festival Aug. 12 to 14. The vessel is a topsail schooner that is a replica of the Baltimore designed and built American privateers that were so successful against British merchant ships in the War of 1812.

Finally, the Lynx is a replica of the Baltimore Clipper ship and privateer that acted as the American counterpart to the British Bermuda sloops in the war of 1812. While the Spirit of Bermuda is not a replica of one singular ship but rather a general remake of Bermuda sloops from back in the day, the Lynx does replicate a specific vessel by the same name from 1812. This replica is owned by the Lynx Foundation and offers day sails in Nantucket during the summer. The Lynx is captained by Donald Peacock, father to Alex Peacock, who is also from Newmarket.

Where should I watch the tall ships come in?

Anywhere along the Piscataqua River is a good spot. On the Maine side, try Fort McClary or Fort Foster. On the NH side, good places include New Castle Commons, Four Tree Island, Pierce Island, Prescott Park, and on the Memorial Bridge under which the ships will ultimately end up. If you are a member of any of the yacht clubs along the river, these are good places to view the parade as well.

Happening August 2: Portsmouth neighborhoods to celebrate National Night Out

Can I tour the ships?

The Kalmar Nyckel and the Spirit of Bermuda will be open for tours from Aug. 12 to 14 at the Portsmouth Commercial Fish Pier across from Prescott Park.

The Kalmar Nyckel is a guided tour with a docent at each station to provide information. The Spirit of Bermuda will be a less formal tour, where passengers can walk around and ask tour guides on board any questions they may have, but it is a more self-directed experience.

Sail Portsmouth board members, from left,  John Considine,  Rick Considine and Phil Von Hemert talk about the upcoming Sail Portsmouth festival when two tall ships will dock at the Portsmouth Commercial Fish Pier across from Prescott Park in Aug. 11 to 14.
Sail Portsmouth board members, from left, John Considine, Rick Considine and Phil Von Hemert talk about the upcoming Sail Portsmouth festival when two tall ships will dock at the Portsmouth Commercial Fish Pier across from Prescott Park in Aug. 11 to 14.

Can I sail any of the ships?

The Lynx will be offering two-hour sails from Aug. 11 following the Parade of Sail through Aug. 14 where passengers board at the UNH Pier in New Castle. The captain will give commentary during the excursion and passengers are welcomed to help raise the sails if they wish to.

What happens next: Portsmouth to get look at updated McIntyre project designs

What other activities are there going to be?

Sail Portsmouth will be hosting a tent at the Commercial Fish Pier at 1 Pierce Island Road offering an array of fun educational exhibits and even some pirates to interact with the kids.

Sail Portsmouth’s schedule of activities around the Parade of Sail in August includes a musical and story-telling presentation of the Battle of Nantucket, an important battle of during the War of 1812. From left to right are Troubadour Bill Schustik and Donald Peacock, captain of the tall ship Lynx.
Sail Portsmouth’s schedule of activities around the Parade of Sail in August includes a musical and story-telling presentation of the Battle of Nantucket, an important battle of during the War of 1812. From left to right are Troubadour Bill Schustik and Donald Peacock, captain of the tall ship Lynx.

On Friday, Aug.12 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. under the tent, there will be a kid-friendly musical theater performance called the "Captain and the Troubadour," which is a reenactment the War of 1812 and the Battle of Nantucket. The show features nationally renowned Troubadour Bill Schustik who has performed on Broadway and at the White House before former President Nixon and Indira Ghandi, as well as Donald Peacock, who will be captaining the Lynx.

Tickets to the show are $11 for members and $12 for non-members.

On Saturday and Sunday, Betty’s Kitchen food truck will cater an assortment of food including lobster rolls, burgers, sandwiches, sides, and beverages for purchase..

Where can I buy tickets?

All tickets to the tours and sails can be purchased at sailportsmouth.org. The sails are offered to passengers 8 years of age and older for $65. The ship tours are free for children 12 and under, and $12 for guests above age 12. Tickets for members are $10 and family tickets that cover one adult and three children ages 15 and below costs $30.

In downtown Portsmouth: State Street Saloon officially reopens: 'Let's make new memories'

Are the ships wheelchair accessible?

The three visiting tall ships are not wheelchair accessible. However, the Gundalow Company which offers sails aboard Portsmouth’s own tall ship, the Gundalow, is wheelchair accessible and will be participating in the Parade of Sail.

Additionally, wheelchair users are welcome to all of the exhibits and activities taking place under the tent.

Sail Portsmouth Board Chair Phil Von Hemert casts his shadow on the Portsmouth Commercial Fishing Pier as he talks about the upcoming Sail Portsmouth festival in August.
Sail Portsmouth Board Chair Phil Von Hemert casts his shadow on the Portsmouth Commercial Fishing Pier as he talks about the upcoming Sail Portsmouth festival in August.

Where can I park for the event?

There will be no public parking on Peirce Island during the Sail Portsmouth Festival. Event-goers should not seek parking options on Peirce Island, at the boat ramp, or on Four Tree Island.

The city will run a free shuttle to the festival site at the pier from the Foundry Parking Garage, 100 Foundry Place, Portsmouth.

A three-shuttle system, where two of three shuttles will be ADA-equipped, will operate during the festival. At lunch, wait times may be longer as drivers rotate taking lunches. The goal is a 20-minute maximum wait time for a shuttle.

Another location to park is the Hanover Parking Garage at 2 Hanover St. in Portsmouth, and walk from there to the pier.

For those who require ADA-accessible parking, it will be available at the Hanover Garage as well as the Foundry Garage, where the ADA-accessible shuttles will pick up, and limited space at the lot at Little Harbor School. All parking is first come,first served.

Can I volunteer for the festival?

The Sail Portsmouth festival is still in need of volunteers to help on all days of the festival. If you are interested, contact Von Hemert through the contact page at sailportsmouthnh.org.

Sea Challenge students celebrate the end of a past week-long voyage aboard the Roseway. The Sail Portsmouth Festival funds the Sea Challenge program for Seacoast teens.
Sea Challenge students celebrate the end of a past week-long voyage aboard the Roseway. The Sail Portsmouth Festival funds the Sea Challenge program for Seacoast teens.

What is the Sea Challenge and how can I get involved?

The money raised from the Sail Portsmouth Festival funds its Sea Challenge program. This is a program that takes place every year, where kids ages 14 to 18 have the opportunity to go out for a week on one of the tall ships and learn everything about sailing, running a ship, and living aboard in a hands-on experience. The organization prides itself on never turning any child away due to financial hardship and will fund however much money is needed in order to allow a child to participate. The cost is $1500 for the week with a $100 deposit. In the past, they have even covered the deposit for families who needed it.

Sail Portsmouth week-at-sea program has openings for high school students

“We always say that finances shouldn't be something that keeps a kid from going,” said John Considine, Sail Portsmouth board vice chair who runs the Sea Challenge program. “A lot of them will start out being very trepidatious about going and when you see them come off the boat. … It's just amazing the transformation of the kids.”

This year’s Sea Challenge recently happened, but the organization is already looking to next year. For more information about the Sea Challenge and Sail Portsmouth, visit sailportsmouth.org.

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Sail Portsmouth brings tall ships back in August 2022