August 19, 2010

Sail Amsterdam 2010, tall ship parade

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 10:20 pm

Our first video report. It’s got a few glitches as we are trying to get used to a new medium. Enjoy.

Today Sail Amsterdam 2010 started with the traditional parade of tall ships. Led by the clipper Stad Amsterdam, 30 tall ships and a lot of small boats entered IJ harbour, which is wedged between Java Island and Piet Heinkade.

Sail Amsterdam was first organised in 1975 and has since been held every five years. The festivities will continue for the next three days, and include live music and theatre. On Friday a parade of barely floating home-built boats will be held in the canals of Amsterdam, the so-called Pieremachocheltocht. Most of the tall ships can be visited for free between 10 am and 4 pm.

This year’s event drew criticism from ship owners, who feel they have to pay the organisers too much money. They think it is wrong that so much of the proceeds of an event that is heavily sponsored by the government disappear in the pockets of a nebulous agency, Sail Arrangementen. The latter replied in newspaper De Pers that they do not understand what all the hoopla is about, as the ships’ owners still sell a lot of tickets.

This is Natasha Cloutier for

The performance at the end of the video was by De Zingende Kapitein. Photo below by the Koninklijke Marine (featuring the frigate HMS Tromp).

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August 4, 2010

Solo sailing girl off to sail around the world

Filed under: General,Sports by Orangemaster @ 10:13 am

It sounds a lot like a soap opera: daddy was all for it, mommy was too, then she changed her mind. Lawyers got involved, child services got involved and stalled last year’s plans, and then the girl ‘threatened’ to emigrate.

Then, the Dutch public had their opinion, which ranged from ‘let the girl do her thing, you only live once’ to ‘what kind of horrible parents lets a teenager sail alone it’s dangerous’, as if the parents couldn’t vouch for their daughter’s talent. I couldn’t resist mentioning that Mike Perham and Zac Sunderland, both boys, were encouraged for their feats and wondering if Laura Dekker was a boy would that have made a difference.

And to ward off future criticism, if and when Laura Dekker does become the youngest person to sail around the world solo, all the Dutch, including the ones with the forked tongues will be all thrilled that she did it after all. If she crashes and burns, I’ll let you go all out in the comments, but for now, let’s see what happens first and comment later.

(Link:, photo of an entirely unrelated boat by the US Navy)

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July 12, 2010

Sailboat uses wind power to generate electricity

Filed under: Gadgets,General,Sustainability by Branko Collin @ 10:54 am

Well. Well well well. Ah well.

In other news, astronaut-inventor Wubbo Ockels is at it again. For the past five years he has been working on a hybrid, energy-neutral ketch called Ecolution and it is almost ready.

The boat has a diesel engine that drives electric engines that in turn drive the propeller. When the boat is sailing, the process is partly reversed and the propellers generate electrical power which is stored in 10,000 kg of batteries that double as ballast. This Ethereal-like design generates a maximum of 20 kW, and the batteries can store up to 300 kWh, which should be enough to satisfy the hungriest of on-board luxury appliances.

Ecolution is marketed as a sailboat that can be operated by anyone, as computers and electric motors do the heavy lifting.

Anyway, go read the PDF, there’s too much to mention here. The Ecolution will be on display during Hisway 2010 (August) and will then be operated for test runs from Scheveningen until June 2011.

More of Ockel’s inventions:

(Link: Het Kan Wel. Photo: Ecolutions.)

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August 29, 2009

Lauragate: solo sailing school girl to be tested for two months, says judge

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 1:28 am

The verdict is in. Laura Dekker, the girl that wants to set a world record by becoming the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe in a sail boat all by herself, will be put under supervision for two months while a psychologist will try and determine whether this 13-year old is fit for that feat.

Dekker’s parents will retain custody, but will have to ask permission from supervisor Bureau Jeugdzorg (the executive branch, so to speak, of the child protection industry) for major decisions pertaining her, a Utrecht court ruled today. The judge stated emphatically that Dick Dekker was not a bad father for supporting his daughter’s ambitions, reports Volkskrant (Dutch). Amsterdam psychologist S. Moonen will now try and find out whether Laura is mentally fit for such a huge undertaking, and whether it is possible for her to be schooled from a distance.

Laura was not present during the reading of the verdict. She tried to avoid the media, and instead gave an exclusive TV interview to Jeugdjournaal (children’s news show of NOS, Dutch). In it she said she was not afraid of the psychological examination, because she would not have gone if she wasn’t ready. She also denied reports that claimed she would be alone for two years in a row, explaining she would go to shore regularly, and she would be surrounded by other sailors taking the same routes because of storm seasons and so on. (Not that fellow ‘yachties’ always stick to the unspoken code of writing poems about flowers and being nice to puppies.)

(Photo by Wikimedia user Jonathunder, some rights reserved)

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August 25, 2009

Laura Dekker ready to emigrate if she can’t sail

Filed under: Dutch first,General,Sports by Orangemaster @ 12:38 pm

While Britain is anxiously waiting for 17-year-old Mike Perham to sail into Portmouth on 29 August after having sailed around the world, 13-year-old Laura Dekker has had to lawyer up in order to fight for the opportunity to attempt the same feat for the Netherlands.

An English article about Perham ironically starts with “while most teenagers may have been losing sleep over their exam results during the past few days”, while the Dutch courts have called upon Child Services, claiming Dekker’s parents are keeping their child from school because her learning while on the sailboat is ‘nonsense’. If Child Services thinks that the parents are not doing right by Laura, there is talk of removing her from their custody.

To avoid this situation, Laura who has dual citizenship with New Zealand, is ready to emigrate – that’s how much Laura and her parents believe in this sailing journey.

Her lawyer tries to tell the courts about this exceptional teenager. “Laura is not just some girl. She was born on a sailboat and lived the first four years of her life on one at sea. She has all the necessary skills and qualities for this journey.”

He makes another good point as well. If we compare Laura to a 13-year-old gymnast, no one goes and checks to see if the gymnast goes to school or is brought up properly — they get support from an Olympic committee or a sports association.

So, are the Dutch Children’s Services not seeing the big picture or are they seeing it very clearly? Why are boys like Mike Perham and record holder Zac Sunderland of the US praised and encouraged, but Laura discouraged? Is she really too young or is a girl less capable? Stay tuned!

My personal, uneducated take is that the entire family could just skip town to New Zealand for a year. Then New Zealand can claim the world record for solo sailing around the world.

(Links:,, Photo of an entirely unrelated boat by the US Navy.)

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August 12, 2009

Teenager attempts sailing solo around the world record

Filed under: Sports by Branko Collin @ 8:51 am

Laura Dekker, 13 years old, is planning to attempt to sail around the world solo between 2009 and 2011, Algemeen Dagblad reports (Dutch). The current record is held by Zac Sunderland of the USA who finished his journey at age 17.

Dekker’s plan has drawn comments from naysayers who feel she is too young, should be in school, and who think her parents are irresponsible. Her response to these comments is one of indifference: “To be honest, I had expected the comments to be even worse. People do not know what they are talking about, so I won’t let it get to me.”

Preparations are going well, according to Dekker’s website. She will be sailing a Hurley 800, a boat made in Twente, and she will send and receive her high school homework using e-mail (she is still looking for a satellite phone, though). Dekker hopes to set sail this September.

(Photo of an entirely unrelated boat by the US Navy.)

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March 8, 2009

Impromptu concerts by floating organ

Filed under: Music by Branko Collin @ 8:30 pm

I ran into the good ship Notedop today on the Zuideramstel Kanaal in Amsterdam. It’s basically a floating organ, and I can tell you from personal experience that it can be heard loud and clear dozens of meters away. The Notedop (nut shell) and its owner Reinier Sijpkens can be found wherever they have a canal and a bridge and where good cheer is in need. Sometimes even a swimming pool suffices.

On his website Sijpkens writes (Dutch/English):

I made a small boat, “de NOTEDOP”, designed a miniature church organ and had it built by Henk Smit. Next I created all kinds of mostly classical arrangements “in a nutshell” of 1 or 2 minutes for organ, trumpet and surprise instruments that sound well against a water city backdrop.

I brought odes to people on the bridges of Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden, Delft, Gouda, Enkhuizen, Alkmaar, Venice, Oudewater, Bruges, Hoorn and many other cities. You can experience this yourself if you book my water concert or happen to run into me.

Thank god for URLs on the sides of boats. I had been so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I forgot to talk to Sijpkens when I had the chance.

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March 7, 2009

Grootveld funeral

Filed under: Art,History by Branko Collin @ 5:12 pm

Today Robert Jasper Grootveld was buried in Amsterdam. The day started with a ‘happening’ at Spui square, followed by a service, after which Grootveld, one of the leaders of the 1960s Provo movement, was sailed to the Zorgvlied cemetery on top of a styrofoam raft for burial. 24 Oranges was present at the happening and also took photos of the boat ride to the cemetery.

At the Spui Grootveld was carried around the Lieverdje statue three times while people shouted “hi – ha – happening” and “uche uche uche” (cough cough cough). In the mid-Sixties Grootveld, self-proclaimed ‘anti-smoke magician’, would hold happenings in the square in which he would circle the statue that had been put there by cigarette manufacturer Crescent .

Later today I will upload more photos to our Flickr stream.

Update: photos have been added to Flickr.

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January 24, 2009

Awesome ‘flyswatter’ bridge

Filed under: Architecture by Branko Collin @ 9:25 am

This bridge, which looks likes a huge flyswatter, is in Leeuwarden. It was designed by Bruggenbureau Van Driel and built in 2000 by Ballast Nedam and BSB Staalbouw. The way I figure it, it works as an ordinary drawbridge, except when you’re in a hurry, then it’ll flip you like a pancake (which is what you’ll look like afterwards).

This is the Slauerhoffbridge, named after a local poet. I translated his “Voor de verre prinses” once, but not very well, so I’ll just link to it.

Via Jalopnik. Photo by Van Driel Bruggenbureau, used with permission. Much more (and more recent) photos after the links.

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