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Sail Baltimore celebrates 40 years

Video produced by Amanda Winters

If you were around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor September 10-14th you may have noticed a bright blue vessel docked across from the Constellation.  This was the Kalmar Nyckel, a recreation of a Swedish merchant ship that carried settlers to the New World in 1638. The ship sails out of Wilmington, Del., and was docked in Baltimore as part of Sail Baltimore’s visiting ships program.

Founded in 1975 as part of then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer’s celebration of the new Inner Harbor, Sail Baltimore is a non-profit organization that attracts visiting tall ships to Baltimore and partners with local organizations to participate in maritime events in the city. “We have a mission of economic development, education and cultural exchange,” says Sail Baltimore’s president Michael McGeady.

Since opening, Sail Baltimore estimates that they have attracted around 5 million visitors to the city and contributed around $200 million to the local economy. This culminated in their participation in the Star Spangled Spectacular in September 2014, which drew 32 visiting ships to Baltimore’s waters.

When docked, the ships provide free visiting hours to the public, creating what is essentially a floating museum.  The Kalmar Nyckel, for example, was built with that very purpose in mind. “We are a non-profit organization with an education mission,” says Captain Lauren Morgens. The Kalmar Nyckel’s season starts in April in Delaware, when she takes students out sailing. Throughout the summer, Captain Morgens travels to different ports up and down the east coast as an ambassador for Delaware; so far this summer, she has been to six different ports with one more to go. She will be returning to Chestertown, MD at the end of October to participate in the Sultana Downrigging Weekend—a tall ship festival with participating ships from Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey.

The Kalmar Nyckel is only one of the many ships visiting Baltimore this year. McGeady feels that Charm City is a port with a lot to offer visitors. With beautiful views, excellent restaurants, and proximity to other major attractions such as Washington D.C., Baltimore is an ideal location for out-of-state crews. “We want to show the world what the port that built this city is all about,” he says.

And 2016 will be an opportune time to show off. There is a fleet week in the works which will feature the ever popular Blue Angels and the commissioning of the USS Zumwalt—the perfect way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sail Baltimore.

Learn more on SailBaltimore.org.

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Julia Cora

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