NEWBURYPORT — Ken Jackman had to check out of a board meeting early Wednesday to make a very unusual appointment.
Jackman is a board member of the Custom House Maritime Museum, which will be bringing the tall ship Nao Santa Maria to Newburyport at the end of the month, and he had an agent from U.S Customs and Border Protection waiting in his office.
The details of ushering a 200-ton tall ship into Newburyport Harbor are quite intricate, according to Jackman, who has been working with the Customs and Border Protection agent to clear the crew manifest of the Spanish-flagged ship’s crew.
“These are all foreign nationals who are coming in,” Jackman said. “The ship will be leaving Virginia, going offshore and coming up the East Coast in territorial waters. It will make re-entry in Newburyport and they have to make sure that who is onboard belongs onboard.”
Nao Santa Maria, a replica of the historic Christopher Columbus vessel that arrived in the New World in 1492, is expected to sail into port for a 10-day visit May 31.
“We had a funny discussion with the agent about clarifying that there will be no international trash and defining what international trash is,” Jackman said. “They have to make sure that there is nothing coming off of the boat that is from a foreign country and did not clear customs.”
If a foreign water bottle – or even a mattress – were to make its way into Newburyport refuse, the item would need to be catalogued and tracked, according to Jackman.
“The fortunate thing is that they crossed the Atlantic last year and they have been in Florida for the past several months,” Jackman said. “So, all of their food and supplies has been bought in the U.S. That is unless someone has a leftover gum wrapper from Spain.”
While many onboard events will be open to the public, such as children’s pirate parties and school and public tours, Jackman said a pair of fundraising parties should turn many a head on the waterfront.
Similar to 2016 when the Custom House Maritime Museum welcomed the Spanish tall ship El Galeon to the waterfront, a special pirate costume party will take place onboard Nao Santa Maria on June 8.
“That party (in 2016) was so good, I still have people asking me when we are going to be doing it again?” Jackman said. “This is an appropriate ship to do this on and this is the grownup costume party. This is like something out of a movie. Imagine being immersed in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ with the people you know in Newburyport all dressed up.”
Salem-based Rumson’s Rum will be pouring rum cocktails for all the faux pirates that evening, while the Jimmy Buffett tribute band Changing Latitudes plays in the background.
“If somebody doesn’t want to go the pirate route, we more than welcome the parrot head route,” Jackman said, referring to Jimmy Buffet fans.
June 1 will feature a special, black-tie tall ship gala featuring a big band playing classics from Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett and led by bandleader and trombonist Dan Gabriel.
“This is a classy evening aboard a Spanish tall ship with a 12-piece big band that is led by one of the most in-demand band leaders in the country,” Jackman said. “But we can’t fit them all on the ship, so we will be setting up a stage on the waterfront, facing the ship. This will fill the waterfront with thunderous, big band music.”
A flamenco dancer floor show will also be presented that evening and Spanish wines and local food will be provided by Jorge Ondonez and The Poynt, respectively.
Each special party is $100 per ticket and represents the “major fundraisers” for future tall ship arrivals, according to Jackman.
“Everyone loves bringing tall ships to Newburyport, having them here and having these massive riggings on the waterfront,” he said. “That takes both a lot of time and a lot of effort. These two events are ways that the community of Newburyport can, if they like doing this, support doing this.”
Both of the parties have a 125-guest maximum and tickets can be found both at the Custom House Maritime Museum and online at www.customhousemaritimemuseum.org/events.