Sail Amsterdam

A nautical climax

Sail Amsterdam is the biggest nautical exhibition that we have, and originates from 1975 when the city of Amsterdam celebrated it's 700 years of existence. Since then it's been held every five years, and the spectacle usually starts on a Thursday with the sailing giants entering the sluices of IJmuiden and entering the North Sea canal welcomed by some 10.000 ships of all sizes and shapes, many done up in their Sunday's best.
One of the wild geese
One of the big Clipper ships under
full sail, including the Royals.
Early in the morning the dikes along the North Sea canal are closed off for all motorised traffic, and many people can be seen hoisting their push bikes off and from their cars to pass the last stretch of canal pedalling in order to find a suitable spot to see the ships come by and enjoy a picknick in the sun or other riparian entertainment, weather permitting of course.
Another one of the wild geese
The Norwegian vessel Statsraad Lehmkuhl,
on it's way to Amsterdam's harbour.

All day long you can hear the ships greeting each other with their big horns, the Shantymen singing their songs from the decks and the old steam powered tug boats, decorated with flowers, will whistle their long forgotten tunes in turns, like some old fashioned blowing contest up on Cripple Creek.
And yet another one, right on the nose.
Again the Norwegian vessel Statsraad
Lehmkuhl, trying to run us over.

After having crossed the canal, with the harbour in sight, cannon salutes are fired for each of the visiting vessels but in 25 years the cannoniers have never been able to hit any of them.
Late in the afternoon, when all the ships have been securely tied up to the quays, the IJ- harbour fills up again with practically everything that floats, and many a captain in this nautical ants nest will look a bit pale around the nose for the risk of a scratch on the boat is a wee bit bigger than usual. It all takes place in quite a friendly atmosphere, though.
A bird's eye view.
A small impression of the harbour
as seen from the Ferris wheel.

All week long there are demonstrations of all sorts of nautical diciplines such as fleet sailing, helicopter rescues, pieremagochel (everything that floats but isn't necessarily a boat) races, ands there's a fireworks display every day just after sunset.

On the shore there's plenty to see and do as well. There's a corner of the harbour reserved for the nautical heritage where beautifully restored boats, ships, wherries and more are there to be admired and talked about in abundance. There's a 50 meter high Ferris wheel from where you can overlook the harbour and surroundings, and then there's (at times) the chance to visit the ships themselves. During the whole event some three million visitors will come and see the ships, and of course there's no shortage of food and drink on the premises. After all, the sponsors want to see some of their investments back and charge the prices to prove it.
At around 10 PM there is a fireworks display accompanied by music, and when that's done the harbour empties rapidly, again being a somewhat chaotic scene. Amsterdam's canals will long after be the stage of a flotilla of "Sunday Drivers"
The next "Sail" will be held in 2005, which should give you plenty time to prepare yourselves.

Spectacular sunset
Amsterdam's IJ harbour, during one of the
most spectacular sunsets of the Millennium.

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© 04-'02 This page is created and sometimes maintained by Hotel Prinsenhof