Dutch historical sailing fleet is seeking public support with an online petition

“Prevent the dutch historical sailing fleet from going under”

The Netherlands has the largest, still operational, historical sailing fleet in the world. The fleet, consisting of 400 traditional, authentic sailing ships is praised worldwide because of her cultural and historical value. To raise awareness in an attempt to save the Dutch historical fleet, the skippers and owners have started an online petition.

Due to the corona measures being taken in the Netherlands and worldwide the fleet is being threatened with becoming extinct. The owners are facing a revenue loss of up to 90% to 100% in 2020 and the outlook for 2021 is hardly any better. Without further financial support from the government many businesses will face bankruptcy, which could result in the disappearance of these historical ships from the Dutch and international waters.

The online petition can be found here

Petition: “Prevent the historical Dutch sailing fleet from sinking under the corona measures”

In contrast to historical sailing ships in neighbouring countries, Dutch historical sailing passenger ships are not subsidised by the government. They are commercially operated by their owners. Blood, sweat and tears are spend in maintaining these authentic ships so that their passengers can enjoy sailing holidays on not only the Dutch inland waters, the Wadden Sea and the Zeeuwse Stromen, but also worldwide. All during it’s existence the Dutch sailing fleet has been able to support herself in the face of growing regulations and customer wishes.



The first and second government aid packages are insufficient to prevent our sailing fleet from disappearing forever. By signing the petition the approximate 400 historical sailing ships hope to gain enough support and send out an S.O.S to the responsible minister: “Our nautical heritage should be preserved”.

The petition is supported by the BBZ, the trade association for the Dutch sail charter fleet and the motorcharter fleet and the HISWA-RECRON.

Without certification many historical ships will be lost forever from the fleet

Following bankruptcy of the ships their certificates will likely expire, resulting in the disappearance of these ships  The ships and their operators have to comply to strict (EU) regulations already, specifically applicable to the historical fleet, once these certificates expire the chance of re-certifying the historical ships will become null. To acquire new certificates they will be viewed as newly built passenger ships. Complying to those specific rules is not only financially unviable but also impossible in a practical sense.

This might result in a very few ships being sold as house boats but the remaining ships will end up on the scrapheap. As a side effect many businesses specialised in supplying and maintaining the historical sailing fleet will risk going out of business, including sailmakers, rigging companies, the Enkhuizer Nautical College (EZS), booking agencies and other nautical orientated trades.

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