Saturday, 8 July 2017

Sail Training Ship MERCATOR

It has been some time since I have been able to spend anytime on the Blog or the website, but happy to let you all know about the latest developments on another old ship built at Leith.

New lease of life for the last ship built at the famous Ramage & Ferguson shipyard, at Leith, Scotland.


Launched from the Leith Shipyard in December 1931 she was Ship No 269 according to the official shipbuilders list, she was an order from the Belgian Government for a 3 masted Barqentine for use as a sail training ship to be used by the Belgian Navy.

A barquentine is a sailing vessel with three or more masts; with a square rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged main, mizzen and any other masts.
Ideal for sail training along with the advantage of having a smaller crew than a full rigged ship, they are capable of very good performance before the wind, along with the ability to sail relatively close to the wind.

The MERCATOR is a very striking looking ship that required extensive work after a long period of lay-up at the port of Ostend.

MERCATOR seen here at her berth in Ostend, Belgium
(Photograph from the official Mercator website)

Her extensive re-fit was carried out in Ostend, Belgium by
IDP Shipyard  (Industries des pĂȘcheries)

They did the masts and the rigging a few years ago. While last year they carried out repairs, cleaning and panting of the hull along with a complete refit of her inside, with the cost of the whole operation costing around 3.4 million Euro. She is now back at her berth in Ostend open to the public, who as you will see in the video below came out in great numbers to welcome the old Leith built ship home.

Return of the Mercator to Ostend

If you happen to be in Ostend and wish to be shown around the ship and the surrounding area then we would recommend that you contact Joris Surmont, who is a very knowledgeable guide working in Ostend with very good English as well, you can find more details of his guided tours below, just click on the link to be taken right there.

You can also visit the official MERCATOR museum site here at

She is a testimony to the men who built her at Leith, now eighty five (85) years after she first entered the waters of the Firth of Fourth and still going strong, she is supported by a marvellous organisation along with many volunteers who will ensure she goes on for many more years.

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