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Sail Amsterdam 1990

For five days the harbor and canals swarmed with every type of vessel

Imagine a week-long nautical festival in one of the greatest

port cities of the world with thousands of participants and four million spectators, and you’ll get some idea of the scope of Sail Amsterdam 1990.

The harbor and the intricate network of canals throughout the city were swarming with every type of vessel that had contributed to the distinguished maritime history of the city,

as well as everything that floats there now.

The classic sailing workboats of Holland- aaks, boeiers, bols, botters, grundels, hoogaars, klippers, loggers, schoeners, schockkers, schouws, tjalks,

 and all their local variants- were joined by modem sea tugs, river barges, cruising sloops, classic motorboats, sailing dinghies,

and a full range of rowing boats, from cutters and shells to Dragonboats, a Chinese import.

All gathered for a week of strenuous competition and processions,

including formation sailing in the Admiral’s Race, floral decoration of tugs in the Aqua Flora Parade,

and Rube Goldberg inventions in the Crazies’ Parade.

But the centerpiece of it all was the Parade of Sail, a grand procession of tall ships, from the North Sea to the centerof the city.

They had just finished the final leg of the 1990 Sail Training Association series of races from Plymouth to La Corunna,

Bordeaux, Zeebrugge, and IJmuiden, where they were locking through the sluice into the North Sea Canal on the early morning of August 9th.

To see them we were joined by other sleepy-eyed sailors at 5:30am, waiting for taxis that screeched through early-grey misty streets to the harbor.

We climbed on board an old traditional two-masted clipper,

“tweemastklipper” in Dutch, for our voyage on the North Sea canal to meet the tall ships at IJmuiden. She was the 89-ft, 26-ton De Hoop Geleidons,

under the command of an extremely competent young woman who was beginning a 12-hour day of mari time dodgem in a spectator fl eet estimated at 1500.

Flag-flying vessels of all sizes and shapes made a steady stream of traffic

heading west from the harbor into the relatively narrow Noordzee Kanaal.

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