Belgian Training Ship MERCATOR

9th April 2007, 10:18
I had the privilege of sailing on the MERCATOR on the 1958 Tall Ships Race from Brest to the Canaries just before I joined Eagle Oil. Used to climb the rigging to avoid having to do any “real” work! Horse meat and Chocolate for supper, happy days.
The barquentine Mercator lies at anchor in Ostend, Belgium. She was named after Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594), Flemish cartographer. She was designed by the Antarctic explorer Adrien de Gerlache (1866-1934) as a training ship for the Belgian merchant fleet. She was built in Scotland and launched in 1932.

Technical data:

length : 78.4 m
beam : 11.09 m
draught : 4.5 m
foremast : 39 m (square-rigged)
mainmast : 41 m (fore-and-aft-rigged)
mizzenmast : 40 m (fore-and-aft-rigged)
15 sails (4 jibs, 4 foresails, 3 staysails, 2 spankers and 2 gaff topsails)
Speed : 13 knots (24 km/h)
Crew : 150
Besides being a training a ship, she was also used, mainly before WW II, for scientific observations, or as ambassador for Belgium on world fairs and in sailing events. She participated in several races, winning the Oslo-Ostend race. She brought back two Moai (giant statues) from Easter Island. In 1936 she brought home from Molokai, Hawaii, the remains of Father Damien. Her last trip was to Lisbon for the commemoration of the quincentenary of the death of infante Henry the Navigator.

In 1961 she became a floating museum, first in Antwerp, and finally from 1964 in the marina of Ostend, just in front of the city hall.

During all this time, she has become perhaps the best-known ship of Belgium.

9th April 2007, 11:45
Was Captain Lagay onboard when you did your trip

9th April 2007, 15:08
Sorry, I can only just about remember what I had for breakfast, never mind 49 years ago.