I took a last-minute trip to Amsterdam for the last 10 days of August which had me arriving at the Dutch capital right smack in the middle of SAIL Amsterdam, a maritime festival that takes place every five years. SAIL was founded in 1975 to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the city, and ever since then, hundreds of historical ships, many of them tall ships, have gathered in the IJ Harbor for what is basically one big party.
I’ve been to the Netherlands a couple of times, but only ever in the winter, so it was great to be there in the middle of summer with the sun shining and temps in the high ’70s. And because of SAIL, the canals were bustling with people in small private boats making their way towards the IJ to mingle with the tall ships. On the first day of SAIL these smaller boats are welcome to escort the visiting ships into Amsterdam, and the result looks a lot like a Houston traffic jam on water. SAIL is the largest public event in the Netherlands — 2.3 million people attended this year. The next SAIL takes place in 2020.