The first Portsmouth Parade of Sail in two years is set to unfurl Thursday morning at the mouth of the Piscataqua River.

The Kalmar Nickel, Spirit of Bermuda, and Lynx will be the center of a weekend full of activities presented by Sail Portsmouth, many of which are ticketed and already sold out. Although there are several opportunities for the public to see the ships both up close and from afar, the event is a fundraiser for Sail Portsmouth (formerly known as the Piscataqua Maritime Commission) according to its board chair Phil von Hemert.

"We send kids to sail on Tall Ships for experiential education programs. We focus on kids from poor families who otherwise would not be able to pay the tuition. We recruit the kids through the high schools on the Seacoast, and it's been a great program," von Hemert told Seacoast Current.

Spirit of Bermuda
Spirit of Bermuda (Sail Portsmouth)

The Portsmouth fire boat will lead the three ships up the Piscataqua River starting at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday to the Memorial Bridge that connects downtown Portsmouth and Kittery, where they will turn around.

"It's kind of dramatic. They may or may not have their sails up depending on the wind conditions," von Hemert said.

Lynx (Sail Portsmouth)

Best Spots to Watch the Parade

The parade will be visible from the Maine and New Hampshire shoreline, but von Hemert has some favorite spots to watch the parade from either side of the river. In Kittery Point, he recommends the Fort McClary State Historic Site on Pepperill Road. There is a fee to enter the park.

"There's plenty of parking and it's a great location. What's fun about it is the fort fires off its cannon every time one of the ships goes by in salute. Usually if the ship has a cannon, they'll fire back," von Hemert said. The Portsmouth and Kittery Point yacht clubs and reenactors at Four Tree Island will also fire cannons.

Von Hemert has two favorite spots on the New Hampshire side, including New Castle Commons on New Castle Island.

"It's a great place to watch the ships marshal before the parade starts so they're sailing around just off that point," von Hemert said, adding there is also a fee to enter.

Kalmar Nyckel
Kalmar Nyckel (Sail Portsmouth)

Four Tree Island and the Memorial Bridge are also favorites.

"The bridge isn't going to open, so you can just fan out along the sidewalk on the down riverside and watch the ships come up the river. It's quite an amazing view, and if you stay there long enough you can see the two ships go into the fish pier and dock," von Hemert said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

Trending Stories for Seacoast Current (August 1-7, 2022)

More From 97.5 WOKQ