No.1 travel guide for Belgium. Discover Belgian beer and food in Ostend.

Mercator - The Museum Sailing Ship


Email  •  Print

Author: Dave Armstrong / Published: 2013-01-13 17:45:11 +0100 / Last Updated: 8 months ago

Mercator © BeerTourism.com


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.


Mercator Ostend


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.


Mercator 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


Mercator Information

Zeilschip Mercator
Pensjagersstraat 8
8400
Ostend

Phone: +32 (0) 59 51 70 10

Email: zeilschip.mercator@telenet.be
Website: www.zeilschip-mercator.be


Ostend Blog Posts

Café Manuscript, a quarter of a century young
OSTEND - The Neville Brothers come bursting out of the musical wallpaper. Just for a moment or two, café Manuscript in Ostend has been shipped to the shores and swamps of New Orleans. ... [ read more ]
First North Sea Beer Festival attracts 5,000 visitors
OSTEND - A cosy, relaxed atmosphere and happy expressions on the faces of beer lovers from all around the world greet me. This is, above all else, what strikes me when I visit the first ever North Sea ... [ read more ]
Belgian North Sea Beer PoppoLou officially launched
OSTEND/OOSTENDE - We witnessed it with our own eyes. There was more than just one solitary message in a bottle washed up on Ostend beach. Far more than that... an entire armada of bottles came ashore, ... [ read more ]
Manuscript, one year on from its launch as a Beer Tourism Café
OSTEND - One year ago, the Manuscript café in Langestraat, Ostend, outed itself as a Beer Tourism Café. At first glance not a lot has changed since then. Regular customers remain loyal to their cosy l ... [ read more ]
First Beer Tourism Café launched in Ostend
OSTEND - Good news for beer lovers on the Belgian coast, the first Beer Tourism Café now offers them a warm welcome in Ostend. No, this is not the first in a long chain of cloned ... [ read more ]

Comments



SHARE:
 



BLOG

POSTS
The Ambierorix beer festival in Tongeren parties for its 10th birthday

TONGEREN - "Am-bier-orix". Tongeren’s annual beer festival is the undisputed champion in the most difficult name competition. In Belgium we learnt about Tongeren at school. The http:... [ more ]

Brunehaut, from the field to the brewhouse

RONGY - A sense of terroir permeates the village of Rongy, nestling amongst the wheat fields and fruit orchards that spread as far as the eye can see. Brasserie de Brunehaut has taken up the torch of a former, ... [ more ]

Westmalle… where Trappists say “Cheese”

WESTMALLE - Westmalle Dubbel and Tripel are iconic Trappist beers. The popularity of the beers makes people almost forget that these monks also produce a tasty cheese. http://belgium.... [ more ]

Val-dieu-bruin_225

More Beer

The beers of Val-Dieu subscribe to the rich tradition of Belgian abbey beers. The brewer’s inspiration is found in the recipes laid down many centuries ago by the monks. This is no... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK