The Blankenberge brothers Staff and Piet Wittevrongel, leaving the boat twelve years ago, excavating in New Zealand. It seems now an eternity ago. The heavily battered ship landed in our country and is now already years refurbished. Little by little, because the restoration is an expensive business, and precision work. The Askoy II is now for more than eighty percent ready.
“One of the major missing links was the mast", says Piet Wittevrongel. “That is now finished. The mast is twenty feet long and rebuilt in Oregon-wood. That is wood without knots and without weak points, which is also used for rafters of roofs. It is glued and laminated. Only one company is there in our country still specialized. What a luck that Shipyards Vandamme also located in Zeebrugge. So we have not far to move,” smiles Wittevrongel.Final spot along the Rederskaai
The Askoy II is located in an empty warehouse of the port authority MBZ along the Lancelot Blondeellaan in Zeebrugge. The port authority asked but one condition: the home of the Askoy II must Zeebrugge. This has been officialised: if the ship has been completed, the final place along the Rederskaai in Zeebrugge. That will on 8 april 2020, when the ship is ready. “The restoration is slow but steady,” says Wittevrongel. “The engine, the rear cabin and the upper deck are ready. Only the front cabin should be finished. We do want to be with a large audience of boating.”Oostende for Anker
Jacques Brel left ever with the sailing boat to travel around the world. He left his wife and children behind and took his new partner, Maddly Bamy, something his wife would never forgive. During his journey to the Marquess beached the boat. Finally managed to Blankenberge brothers succeeded in getting the boat back to Belgium to pick up. “It is our dream to be with this ship again the last route of Brel", says Piet Wittevrongel. “On 8 april 2020, not coincidentally, the anniversary of Brel, let the ship get back on the water. We are then at Ostend at Anchor, and the Blankenberge Havenfeesten expected. As possible, we are going to Sail Amsterdam. Then we would like to the Marquess.”
Meanwhile, the Askoy II was already a real attraction. Tourists can take the half-finished ship on Sundays between 14 and 17 hours to visit. In brochures of Tourism Bruges is the Askoy II was already included. More info can be found at www.askoyii.be.