MERCATOR - THE MUSEUM SAILING SHIP
Author: Dave Armstrong / Published: 5 months ago / Last Updated: about 1 month ago
OSTEND - The former sail-trainer, the Mercator, is moored as a floating museum. Mercatordok Oostende, between the city hall and railway station, is the location. She was designed by Adrian der Gerlache for the merchant fleet of Belgium and the early Flemish mapmaker, Gerardus Mercator, gives her the name.
Mercator maps are those that helped sailors by giving accurate shapes of land masses and reliable lines of constant compass bearing. Modern maps now try to give an idea of comparative size too (eg. Peters maps.) The ship is a magnificent example of a 7708.26 ton steel barquentine or schooner-bark, with three masts and 15 (formerly billowing) sails.
They enabled a top speed of 13 knots, using the full crew of 150. She achieved this within a total length of 78.4 m and a beam width) of 11m. If you were to climb any of the masts, you will be at the dizzying height of between 39 and 41m. (that’s around 130 feet, to you!) Interestingly the ship was rigged as a topsail schooner in her original configuration.
Built in Leith, near Edinburgh, for launch on April 7th, 1932, she was designed to race as well as function in an ambassadorial capacity before WWII.
She actually won one important race from Oslo to Ostend in 1960 and competed in the Torbay-Lisbon and Brest-Canary Islands races in the 1950s. Pre-war cruises took place for 7 most adventurous years, bringing back a Belgo-French scientific expedition from French Oceania and the remains of the “apostle to the lepers”, Father Damiaan, from Molukai Island, near Honolulu, in 1936.
The British Embassy persuaded the captain to remain in the West Indies, and later in Sierra Leone during the war, after he had left Ostend on a cruise.
Captains van de Sande and Ghys were in charge of her for all of her great Belgian voyages. She returned to Ostend after being used as a submariners’ rest-ship and received a very necessary refit for her next voyage in 1951. In 1964, Mercator was retired, I’m sure forcibly, to spend her days as a great tourist attraction in Ostend.
She did manage a short sail to Antwerp in 1993, but now has a place in Belgian hearts as a National Monument! Displays of hammocks as used by the crew and portraits of the two captains looking down on you just as they would have done in the 30s make her a real historic site.
The outstanding fittings and sailing rigs can be seen inside her but a virtual visit is also available online.
Image Credit: © Toerisme Oostende
Phone: +32 (0) 59 51 70 10
Ostend Blog Posts
OSTEND - Ostend is one of those places that keeps having to reinvent itself. Blame those tides. Not those plying the beach, though – those of history. © CATS ... [ read more ]
OSTEND - As a washed-up, drug-haunted American soul-legend, where would you go to clean up, get fit and reconnect with your musical soul? Possibly not (for all its charms) Ostend in the grip of winter ... [ read more ]
OSTEND - The Ostend sluice basin otherwise known as "de Spuikom" is home to oyster farming and to the legendary 'Ostendaise', which was once served at the court of the Russian czar. During the season ... [ read more ]
OSTEND - We have been waxing lyrical, okay perhaps once too often about Stille Nacht (Silent Night), the (in our humble opinion) superb Christmas beer from the Dolle Brouwers in Esen, Diksmuide (not t ... [ read more ]
You must be logged in to leave a comment
OSTEND - Ostend is one of those places that keeps having to reinvent itself. Blame those tides. Not those plying the beach, though – those of history. They have made a habit of sweeping back in ... [ more ]
OSTEND - As a washed-up, drug-haunted American soul-legend, where would you go to clean up, get fit and reconnect with your musical soul? Possibly not (for all its charms) Ostend in the grip of winter. But the ferry ... [ more ]
Oerbier is the Dolle Brouwers flagship beer. It was their first commercialized beer and has been in production since 1980. The name refers to the pure origin of the beer as well as... [ more ]
Westvleteren Blond - The lightest beer of the Sint-Sixtus family, when confined to its bottle, only to be recognized by the green cap topping it off. This is the beer that the monk... [ more ]
Dulle Teve is a West-Flemish term - more juicy Belgian dialect, most of the time only understood by those who speak it. And when we talk Belgian beer, the West produces some of the... [ more ]
Special Extra Export Stout, as the name rather obviously reveals, was created for the export market. This request came from the brewery’s US distributor. We don’t know if it’s ... [ more ]
Westvleteren 8 is 12’s little and lesser known brother. It’s sadly also sometimes less appreciated, and is said by some to be the least popular (recognised by its blue bottle cap) ... [ more ]
The prestigious Christmas beer from Esen, as well as the second and last seasonal brews the Dolle Brouwers produce. Stille Nacht translates rather easy and clearly as 'Silent Night... [ more ]
Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.