Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sail 2010 Amsterdam: Day 1

It's been a bit over a week and I'm dying to show you the fabulous Thursday and Friday we had in North Holland for Astrid's 56th birthday celebration at Sail 2010. The two key cities are IJmuiden on the west side of the country and Amsterdam on the east, with the North Sea Canal connecting the two. That was the route of the tall ships going to Amsterdam from the North Sea. [Click to enlarge.]

On Thursday we were in IJmuiden for the day and night, the first day of Sail 2010. There on the banks of the North Sea Canal, we sat for 5 hours (in canvas folding chairs we had purchased the day before!), watching the procession. We weren't bored for one minute and still can't believe it was F I V E hours. It was a four-hour sail-in for the boats from the North Sea at IJmuiden to Amsterdam, 24 km away.

We had left early from home (6 a.m.) to make sure we got a good spot. By 8 we were situated in our chairs with no one in front of us...a clear shot. Since the procession didn't start till 10, we had 2 hours to watch everything else going on, which was almost as fun as the ships. The dogs were still only for this photograph. The girls were here and there and everywhere, especially watching the police helicopters overhead....

....and walking down to the canal. We were sitting right next to these steps and watched kids especially walking up and down them with all the energy of a lifetime. This shows you what a high vantage point we had on the bank of this canal.

Then the show started. First just boats of all sizes and shapes and age...and wealth. A lot of money passed before our eyes that day, for sure:

And none of these were the tall ships!
But they were all waiting to accompany the tall ships once they started. The Stad Amsterdam, Holland's 3-mast clipper, was the "grand marshall" that set the tone for the procession.

Thar she blows, the bottom image of the above collage, followed by the Russian Mir (above).
Our only disappointment was that the ships weren't able to unfurl their sails, not because there wasn't enough wind (there was plenty!) but because the canal is too narrow for the maneauvering of such big ships with hundreds of smaller boats on their left and right. I would have LOVED to see them in full sail!

Incidentally, more than 100,000 ships traverse this canal every year. During Sail times, every 5 years, the number must surely double! The canal is 235 meters wide and 15 meters deep...not exactly the same environment in 1976 when my now deceased brother Bennett was at the New York City tall-ship extravaganza, taking pictures from a helicopter!

See how much fun everyone had! This is what Sail 2010 was all about. Whooping it up big time.

By 1 p.m. the place had thinned out and instead of going to Amsterdam then to meet the crowds on that end of the stick, Astrid and I decided to stay in IJmuiden to get situated in our Holiday Inn and go down to the North Sea to beachcomb before our dinner reservation at 6 p.m. I think I mentioned that I had found a package deal for Astrid's birthday that included the night's stay, a welcome drink, Captain's dinner, fast-ferry round-trip to Amsterdam and a full breakfast at an incredible price. We were happy campers.

It so happens this Holiday Inn is used a lot by companies for team building. See the climbing contraption? It was visible from our room overlooking the sand dunes. We saw it in use both days by different teams.

Off to the left of the climbing apparatus, a short walk away, were the bunkers facing the North Sea during WW II. They had been built by the Dutch but were taken over by the Germans early on in the war. They were so strongly fortified that nothing was able to destroy them during the war.

Here's a YouTube that even shows the Holiday Inn at different points:

Actually, it was after supper that we took another walk to see the above bunker and to wander off towards the inlet side of the North Sea into IJmuiden. We knew there were tankers and lighthouses and fun things to see! And see them we did.

These are the two lighthouse of IJmuiden (the left and middle images are of the "lower" lighthouse), facing the North Sea, commissioned in 1877 and made of cast iron. It's an interesting story which you can read here. But esesentially they were constructed when the canal was built to connect the North Sea to the IJssel Sea so that ships could get across The Netherlands.

While we were walking around the "lower" lighthouse at dusk, you can imagine our surprise to see these two half-tame foxes playing around in the grass. Some neighbor guys nearby told us they were introduced to the dunes to keep the rabbit population down. The rabbits were undermining the dune construction which was built to keep the country from being flooded.

Surely you've heard this before: God created the world but the Dutch created The Netherlands. Think about it the next time you realize that most of present-day Holland was formerly under the sea.

The North Sea. What else is there to say!

Speaking of the North Sea, if you look out from shore as far as you can see, what would you see if you could? That would be England, of course. So when we found this British phone booth just sitting there, we wondered how many Brits in Holland were pining for their own country! And now I also wonder how many of these relics can be found here on this side of that pond?

There you have it, the first day of Sail 2010...the IJmuiden side of it. Next week I plan to give you Day 2 on the Amsterdam side of the birthday celebration. More of the same (BOATS) but different. That's the fun of this memory.

But before I say "ciao for now," here are the two water towers of IJmuiden. Wouldn't miss them for anything. The one on the left is now an apartment building. The one on the right I almost didn't get while driving by in the car, and therefore not really in sharp focus. But you at least get the idea about why I love "collecting" them.

Day 2 next week. Ciao for now (old habits are hard to break). Tot ziens.


  1. Yay, yay, yay! A lighthouse and a RED one at that - I couldn't have asked for more beautiful images to start my week. Thank you Ginnie for sharing the beauty you capture with your lens - your gift is our pleasure!

    Peace and aloha ...

  2. Really good photos, you experienced a lot. I was looking and looking to see if Christian Radich (Norways famous tall mast ship) was there. She normally attends such events, and especially with Holland and Norway having a long common history. The foxes were also beautiful, what a great day!

  3. That was some day! It would take me weeks to do that much. fantastic pictures.

  4. Looks like a pleasant day for a parade and to be out and about. You did see a whole gamut of things and wildlife.

    Oh Ginnie, I can tell you're just having the best time of your life. You found your nirvana. So happy for you.

  5. Linda: A lighthouse AND a water fact, two of each. Life doesn't get much better than that, right?! :) This was such a fun be continued.

    Diane: I just looked at the names of all the ships and couldn't find yours, so I don't know? I can't imagine why not, though, since you're so nearby! And yes, the foxes were fun to see.

    Susan: It was definitely a fun-packed day with so much to see. As Astrid says, we were "short of eyes" to see everything. :)

    PC: We were so lucky to have good weather at the beginning of the sail-in, Maria, because it was raining the day they sailed out. And YES, I have definitely found my Nirvana. Definitely. Thanks for noticing. :)

  6. I can just picture you and Astrid in your soccer-mom canvas chairs :)

    I love the red foxes! The one on the top right looks like he just ate a delicious rabbit.

    These tall ships are magnificent. I hope we get to see them unfurled in your next post. I love the Holland sky in your ship photos!

    San Francisco has a tall-ship "Festival of Sail" every three years; the last one was in 2008.

  7. I have to remember this.
    When I opened this post and saw all the beautiful pictures I re-lived that first day again, to me it was just a miracle that we sat down for so long on those chairs and never were bored one second. So many boats, so many people.
    The rowing men in that small ship, later we saw them in Amsterdam, that was another miracle, they made it all the way to the Pieremachochelboot-tocht.
    I am glad we stayed in IJmuiden the whole day, we ended up seeing thoses foxes.
    Thanks for making this wonderful memory.

  8. I love the foxes too, what a sight to see them like that, playing around. I have never seen one on the farm, but Don did see one.

    I wish you could have seen the ships in full sail the way Bennett did too, maybe one day. They sure are beautiful in their bones though.

    You and Astrid know how to live, I just love how you get out and about. Thank you for sharing the experience in summary. I know it can't compare to the real thing, but it sure helps me to visualize what you did.

  9. Ok - so I read it yesterday and finally came back today to comment. What a great post!!! And yes I couldn't agree more with photo cache, I know you are having the time of your life...

    There is so much to see and do and for me it's just that much more exciting on that side of the pond.. Maybe it's how close everything is..

    Anyhow - great work on those photos!!!!

  10. DB: HA! Astrid and I both laughed over the soccer-mom canvas chairs. Perfect for us. :) You'll be disappointed NOT to see the sails unfurled in my next post, sad to say. For us, it never happened. I think some may have been unfurled for awhile when they entered AMS on Thursday, but as they sat dockside, they were without clothes. :(

    Astrid: Never bored for one second. I think that would make a good epitaph if we ever have a tombstone. :) It really WAS a wonderful memory. I'll never forget it. Thank you for sharing it with me!

    Ruth: Those foxes were a bit scary at first because when they starting coming after us, we didn't know how wild/tame they were. We calmed down after talking to the guys. I wish we could have seen the ships full-sail, too. But the "bones" were enough and we're thankful for them. Yes, we do get out and about...and God willing and the creek don't rise, we'll continue doing so!

    ET: The time of our life, for sure, Jen. We both say Thank-You every day. Everything IS so close here in Europe and maybe that IS the fun of it. It still mind-boggles me. Thanks.

  11. I'm so sorry it's been so long since I've stopped by! I've missed so much, but i alway love how you grab life with gusto, Ginnie! So many activities, lots of things to see and do. It's inspiring! and happy belated birthday to Astrid!

  12. What a beautiful day that was. I can see from your pictures how much fun you must have had. The tall ships, the kids, the lighthouses, the foxes – so many pics to take, and you took them well. Thanks.