SAIL Amsterdam 2010

A question that we often get asked at the hotel is a recommendation for a good museum. My first reaction is always the Rijksmuseum, which we can actually see from the hotel.

Many people associate the Rijksmuseum with Rembrandt’s masterpiece ‘The Nightwatch‘, which is fine and dandy if that’s your thing, but my thing, my piece-de-resistance at the Rijksmusem is the wall-sized oil and ink depiction of a battle at sea by Willem van de Velde, called ‘The Battle of Schevening‘.

The Battle of Schevening, Willem van de Velde I, 1653, Rijksmusem, Amsterdam

I could stare at that thing for hours and hours. It’s so detailed it takes my breath away, and it covers an entire wall. If you lean in closely (when a guard isn’t watching) you can really feel what a battle at sea in the 1600’s would have been like, the smoke, the sea salt in the air, the roar of the cannons.

The Dutch maritime relationship with the sea is well-known and well-documented. For centuries they have worked on the sea, against the sea, and with the sea, but today some of the romance is lost on the heavy cargo ships and dinky little canal boats.

Where is the grandeur of ages past, you might wonder? Well wonder no more because on the 19th of August (a mere 9 days away!) over 50 ships will sail into the port of Amsterdam for the opening parade of a 5 day event that comes only once every 5 years, SAIL 2010.

But these aren’t just any ships! There will be the tall old wooden ships with beautifully billowing sails, gorgeous yachts, daunting naval ships of note, and other unique and impressive ships that you may never again get a chance to see.  It really is a sight to behold.

The parade on the 19th kicks of a 5-day programme of all things nautical. Think: cannon salutes, boat carnivals, boat races, sailing lessons for children, and plenty of chances to tour the ships yourself. Add to this some music and fireworks to wrap up every night, and you’ve got yourself a nice long weekend to look forward to.

If my powers of persuasion simply aren’t up to par, then let this picture speak a thousand words.  It is my favorite painting come to life!  (Minus, of course, the war and bloodshed, but I do believe that’s a good thing.) :

SAIL 2010

See you there!

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