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Sail Portsmouth brings back tall ships in August 2022

PORTSMOUTH – Sail Portsmouth returns to the city from August 11-16, bringing tall ships to the city for the first time since 2019. The festival has been canceled for the past two years due to COVID-19, but is making a comeback this summer with three historic tall ships to visit and navigate.

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

“It’s not every day you get to board a tall ship in Portsmouth. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of it,” said Phil Von Hemert, Chairman of Sail Portsmouth. “And since we haven’t had it for the past few years. I imagine there will be a lot of people there.

“A lot of people missed it because they’re so used to coming to it and it’s really fun,” said Nita Libby, the organization’s treasurer. “So we just hope they’re all ready to come out and do this again.” Tickets for tours and sails sell out fast, so be sure to visit to secure your spot.

When and where does the Sailing Parade take place?

The Parade of Sail, where tall ships sail up the Piscataqua River to Portsmouth, will take place on Thursday August 11 from 10.15am.

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The arrival of the tall ships marks the start of the festival and is usually accompanied by an array of private and public boats following the tall ships. The ships start at the mouth of the Piscataqua River and end at the Memorial Bridge.

What tall ships are coming?

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

The Kalmar Nyckel is one of three tall ships due to appear in Sail Portsmouth's Parade of Sail on Thursday 11 August.  This is a fully rigged replica of the ship that brought the first Swedish settlers to America in 1638. Courtesy Photo

The Kalmar Nyckel is a replica of the same name of the ship that brought the first Swedish settlers to America in 1638. These settlers were known for founding the colony of New Sweden which eventually became Delaware. This fully rigged vessel has a blue hull and uses all modern safety and navigational equipment as well as an engine which vessel 1638 did not have. It belongs to the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation of Wilmington, Delaware.

The Spirit of Bermuda is one of three tall ships due to visit Sail Portsmouth in August.  She is a three-masted ship and a replica of Britain's answer to the fast and nimble Baltimore privateers.

The Spirit of Bermuda is a three-masted replica of the Bermuda Sloops 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 rigged sail. – the typical triangular shaped sail seen on ships today. The Spirit of Bermuda also features these sails. Bermuda sloops were in peacetime used to ship goods across the ocean. In times of war 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 helmed by Newmarket native Alex Peacock.

The Lynx is one of three tall ships due to appear in Sail Portsmouth's Parade of Sail on Thursday August 11 and take part in the festival from August 12-14.  The ship is a topsail schooner which is a replica of the Baltimore designed and built American privateers which were so successful against British merchant ships during the War of 1812.

Finally, the Lynx is a replica of the ship and privateer Baltimore Clipper which acted as the American counterpart to the British Bermuda sloops during the War of 1812. While the Spirit of Bermuda is not a replica of a singular ship but rather a general remake of Bermuda Sloops of the era, the Lynx replicates a specific ship of the same name from 1812. This replica is owned by the Lynx Foundation and offers day sails to Nantucket during the summer. The Lynx is captained by Donald Peacock, father of Alex Peacock, also from Newmarket.

Where should I watch the tall ships come in?

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

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Can I visit the ships?

The Kalmar Nyckel and the Spirit of Bermuda will be open for tours from August 12-14 at the Portsmouth Commercial Pier, opposite 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 the onboard tour guides any questions they might have, but it’s a more self-contained experience.

Sail Portsmouth board members, left to right, John Considine, Rick Considine and Phil Von Hemert talk about the upcoming Sail Portsmouth Festival when two tall ships dock at the Portsmouth Commercial Fish Pier opposite Prescott Park from the 11th to the 14th august.

Can I sail on one of the ships?

The Lynx will offer two-hour sailings from August 11 after the Parade of Sail to August 14 where passengers will board at UNH Pier in New Castle. The captain will provide commentary on the excursion and passengers are welcome to help raise the sails if they wish.

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What other activities will there be?

Sail Portsmouth will host a tent at the Commercial Fish Pier at 1 Pierce Island Road, offering a range of fun educational exhibits and even pirates to interact with children.

Sail Portsmouth's program of activities around the Parade of Sail in August includes a musical and narrative presentation of the Battle of Nantucket, a major battle of the War of 1812. Left to right, troubadour Bill Schustik and Donald Peacock, captain of the tall ship Lynx.

On Friday, August 12, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., in the tent, there will be a child-friendly musical theater performance called “Captain and the Troubadour”, which is a re-enactment of the War of 1812 and the Battle of Nantucket. The show features nationally acclaimed 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 captain the Lynx.

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

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

Where can I buy tickets?

All tickets for tours and sails can be purchased at Sails are available to passengers 8 years and older for $65. Ship tours are free for children 12 and under and $12 for guests over 12. Tickets for members are $10 and family tickets that cover one adult and three children 15 and under are $30.

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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 participate in the Parade of Sail.

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

Sail Portsmouth board chairman Phil Von Hemert casts his shadow over Portsmouth's commercial fishing pier as he talks about the upcoming Sail Portsmouth festival in August.

Where can I park for the event?

The city will arrange a free shuttle to the festival site at the pier from the foundry parking lot. Parking is available on Pierce Island but will be limited to handicap accessible spaces and festival volunteer spaces. Another place to park is the Hanover car park at 2 Hanover St. in Portsmouth, and walk from there to the pier.

Can I volunteer for the festival?

The Sail Portsmouth Festival is always in need of volunteers to help every day of the festival. If you are interested, contact Von Hemert via the contact page on

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

What is the Sea Challenge and how do I participate?

Money raised through the Sail Portsmouth Festival funds its Sea Challenge programme. This is a program that takes place every year, where children between the ages of 14 and 18 have the opportunity to go out for a week on one of the tall ships and learn all about sailing, driving a ship and life on board in a hands-on experience. . The organization prides itself on never turning away a child due to financial hardship and will fund the amount needed to allow a child to participate. The cost is $1500 for the week with a $100 deposit. In the past, they even covered the deposit for families who needed it.

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“We always say finances shouldn’t stop a child from going,” said John Considine, deputy chairman of the board of Sail Portsmouth, which runs the Sea Challenge programme. “A lot of them will start out being very worried about leaving and when you see them getting off the boat. … It’s just amazing the transformation of the kids.

This year’s Sea Challenge took place recently, but the organization is already looking ahead to next year. For more information on the Sea Challenge and Sail Portsmouth, visit