Mercator back home in Ostend

13th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Belgian sailing ship Mercator is being returned to its mooring in the centre of the seaside resort of Ostend.

The vessel has been undergoing much needed repairs elsewhere in the port of Ostend, but has now been fully restored to its former glory.

The Mercator is a museum ship and a former training vessel of the Belgian merchant fleet.

Jo Dielman of the association "Sailing Ship Mercator" told VRT that the vessel would have to be brought back to its mooring in the Mercator Dock by sailing backwards.

"There is no room in the dock for the Mercator to turn around, so it is better that the Mercator can sail in backwards under the steam of tugboats."

The trip from where the Mercator has been repaired to its mooring place may be a short one, the vessel has to negotiate two locks. One is only 20 metres wide. The ship itself measures 11.20 metres.

A crew of 35 was on board for the short, but complicated trip back to its mooring place in front of Ostend City Hall.

Last engineer on board

The crew includes the only surviving engineer who sailed with the Mercator on the high seas.

During his last sea voyage the Mercator took part in a race from Oslo in Norway to Ostend.

The three-master is still seaworthy and is powered by sail and a 500 HP engine.

The return of the vessel comes at the height of the Easter break and at the start of the new tourism season.

The city of Ostend hopes that the return of the Mercator and the renovation work that has been carried out will encourage more tourists to visit the seaside resort.

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