Tall Ships on the horizon

15th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

The spectacle of the Sedov, the largest traditional sailing boat in the world, and hundreds of other vessels sailing into Amsterdam should be enough to make everyone forget about the city's rather messy difficulties.

"Amsterdam will be a living exposition of sailing heritage and nautical wealth" from 17 to 22 August, according to the organisers of SAIL 2005. It is difficult to argue with this claim.

All eyes with her on clipper Stad Amsterdam as it leads the "SAIL IN" by more than 600 vessels into Amsterdam on Wednesday 17 August. The flotilla coming for the event held every five years includes the Russian vessel Sedov, the largest traditional sailing boat in the world.

Turkish Frigate Barbaros will appear alongside Dutch navy vessels

All told there will be 57 Tall Ships from around the world, two replicas, 560 vessels representing the sailing heritage in the Netherlands, four naval ships and six ultra-modern sailing vessels.

Up to 2.5 million people are expected in Amsterdam over the six days for the maritime spectacle. The programme for the event is split into three categorises: nautical, cultural and youth.

The nautical programme is for those who want to watch the vessels in action — as they "SAIL IN" and the "SAIL OUT" and take part in other displays. Many of the vessels will be open to public viewing.

The cultural programme centres on six podiums in the area around the IJ Harbour near to Amsterdam's Central Station. Everyday the stands will present the food, culture and music from various points of the compass.

The youth programme features music, games. workshops and movies — all in some way connected to live on the sea.

Landlubber problems

Kamper Kogge - a replica of a 14th century design

The organisers could be forgiven for thinking they had somehow offended Poseidon, the god of the sea.

Having assembled a mighty fleet for one of the biggest maritime events in the world, SAIL has been menaced by two problems that could be described as acts of God.

Amsterdam Central Station is the key hub for moving the hundreds of thousands of pectators to and from SAIL.

The logistic plans were thrown into doubt when an Intercity derailed in the station damaging tracks and overhead power lines two days before the beginning of SAIL.

Network manager ProRail said services should be running again by Wednesday and Dutch Rail NS is laying on extra train and bus services for SAIL.

The second problem isn't so much an act of God. In a well-planned move (some would call it blackmail), sanitation workers have gone on strike in the Dutch capital to push for better working conditions.

For a week no household garbage or refuse from bins will be collected and the streets (except for the Dam and the Rokin) will not being cleaned. Within hours of the strike starting, the centre of Amsterdam looked like a rubbish dump, and that was before SAIL had even started.

SAILable solution

Shabab of Oman (the youth of Oman)

Residents and visitors to Amsterdam may not be able to escape this industrial dispute on land but SAIL 2005 could help to take their minds of the overflowing bins and piles of garbage. After all the slogan for this year's maritime event is "enjoy a world of friendships".  

Poseidon must be embracing this notion too. After days of clouds and cold, the sun emerged over the Netherlands on the eve of SAIL and the weather service KNMI predicted temperatures in the mid to high 20s during the event.

Not great if you are knee deep in garbage or waiting for a train, but perfect for watching the ships coming over the horizon.

Click here for SAIL 2005's English-language website (including the full programme and maps with Dutch explanations).

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[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: What's On in Holland + SAIL Amsterdam 2005

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