During March the Dutch clipper Stad Amsterdam again graced the historic Handelskade water-front in Curaçao.
The beautiful three-master, built by Damen Oranjewerf in Amsterdam in 2000, operates luxury cruises in Europe and the Caribbean. Curaçao was hoping to receive a visit from the ship last year, however, that was postponed when the clipper was chartered to retrace the voyage of the Beagle, the ship that carried Charles Darwin around the world from 1831-1836. Darwin's voyage resulted in the publication of On the origin of Species, the book that drastically changed the way we look at life on earth. Almost two centuries later, Stad Amsterdam recreated this voyage for a series of scientific programs shown on Dutch and Belgian television.
While cruising the Caribbean, Stad Amsterdam often plays host to groups of youngsters interested in sailing. In January 20 young people from the St. Maarten Youth Sailing Program visited the ship. In Curaçao it was the turn of the local Sea Scouts, whose visit was made possible by the Dutch Foundation Willem 4.
A large number of local journalists visited the ship at the invitation of the management of the Maduro and Curiels Bank. Although the evening was a great success, there was some disappointment for the media, organizers and crew, when Stad Amsterdam was unable to sail. This came to light when local tour operators discovered a law dating back to 1908 saying that it is not allowed for a foreign ship to take locals on a paid trip. Attempts to find a solution failed. Even the minister of finance, Mr. George Jamaloodin, who boarded the ship to explain the situation, couldn't give the green light and the ship remained alongside the dock. This did have its advantages: nobody was seasick.
Els Kroon is a Dutch former teacher who now lives and works as an award-winning free-lance photojournalist on Curaçao.