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Remembering SAIL Amsterdam

SAIL Amsterdam is only held every five years, so lovers of sailing ships always make sure to not to miss that event.

SAIL Amsterdam
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Latitude’s old friend Pete Passano, formerly of the Bay Area and one of the most accomplished open-ocean singlehanded sailors in the world, forwarded us the accompanying photos of the Dutch having fun on boats on the Amstel River near Amsterdam during last year’s SAIL Amsterdam.

Founded in 2000 to celebrate big classic sailing ships, SAIL Amsterdam is held every five years and — as you can see from the photos — has been a wild success. In last year’s event well over 100 classic sailing vessels in excess of 100 feet — schooners, barkentines, Dutch tjalks, clippers, cutters, brigs, fully-rigged ships, kits, luggers, cogs, frigates — participated. A number were more than 100 years old, and many were more than 40 years old. As you can tell, they attracted a lot of spectator boats.

Who knew there were so many old sailing ships — more than a few of them more than 100 years old — still kicking around?

SAIL Amsterdam
©2016Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Wild, no? As we’ve mentioned before, the Dutch are crazy about sailing, even though they don’t have the warmest weather or longest season for it.

We were glad to hear from Pete, for if we’re not mistaken, he’s now 85. He started his recreational sailing career when he and his wife sailed a 35-ft boat from the Netherlands to San Francisco Bay. Pete and Bob van Blaricom later built the 39-ft steel boat Sea Bear together on a San Rafael canal. Eventually Pete bought Bob out.

It’s a shame we don’t get the same turnout on Opening Day on San Francisco Bay.

SAIL Amsterdam
©Latitude 38 Media, LLC

In 2007 Passano was awarded the Cruising Club of America’s prestigious Blue Water Medal for his 125,000 miles — back then — of ocean sailing. One of Pete’s roughest passages was on the way from New Zealand to Maine via Cape Horn. While he was 250 miles west of the Horn, the barometer dropped 15 millebars in six hours. Passano reports the wind blew at "hurricane force 12" for over 20 hours and Sea Bear was knocked down several times. But both Bob and Sea Bear survived without much damage, and he continued on to Rio, Antigua, Bermuda and Maine, where he has lived for quite a few years now. 

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