The naval history of Netherlands is an indivisible part of the country’s history and it dates back to the 15th century. As overseas trade was instrumental to Dutch economy, a naval defense was a necessity for the protection of commercial interests.
In the beginning, THE wealthy merchants and local authorities in the country’s many ports assured to arm ships and defend from possible pirate attacks or casualties with other ships. Defensive measures to protect the merchant ships included sailing in a convoy or arming the merchants themselves. During times of war, the Dutch authorities allowed offensive actions too, therefore, Dutch captains were able to attack and, if possible, to capture enemy ships and their load.
The Dutch Republic was also involved in numerous wars which took place at sea. Dutch ships protected shipping lanes all over the world and also guarded the country of possible naval invasion by enemies.
The turbulent days at sea are now a thing of the past, but that has largely shaped the history and the culture of Netherlands. Today, the SAIL Amsterdam makes a lively, unique, maritime event taking place in the Dutch capital. Recurring every five years, it’s a kind of event where tall ships from all around the globe come to the city ports and channels to participate in various celebrations and festivities.
The event was firstly organized in 1975 to mark and cherish the 700-th anniversary of Amsterdam. Under the name “Sail Amsterdam 700″, the event simultaneously renewed the general interest in tall ships and historical ships, especially among locals. Hundred thousands of people gather to wave in the ships which were sailing into the city to be part of numerous maritime-themed performances. Globally,”SAIL Amsterdam” counts as one of the largest maritime manifestations.
One of the most prominent ceremonies is the Parade of Sail on the first day, where historical ships are joined by many others smaller and newer ships. Some events also re-enact naval battles. Visitors also get the chance to climb aboard the ships and check them out.
In 2000, there were around 8000 boats in total that roamed around the city’s waters. The 2005 edition, featured up to 50 tall ships and the number of historical ships reached around 600. Ship replicas, hundreds of classical sail and steamships, and some modern marine ships were part of the show, too. For the first time that year, several modern yachts and a submarine also chipped in the activities. In 2015, over 600 ships which sailed into the North Sea Canal anchored in Amsterdam’s IJhaven.
The Amsterdam Foundation takes the challenge to continually come up with a better edition than the previous ones, so if you are up to experience SAIL Amsterdam, the next one will be taking place in 2020. We’ll be there for sure!