One of the last wooden fishing vessels on the Belgian coast, the Siol , is allowed to be posted on the old slipway on the Eastbank finally. Now it was an annoying stand-in-the-way for the too ambitious building promotors on the Baelskaai. Hurray, hurray, hurray! With a Belgian-Greek-Swedish-Turkish delegation of students of our Cononect-project we had an intriguing interview with the owner of the vessel Willy Versluys, in March last year. (1) Strange coincidence or not: that after years of juridicial fights and quarrelling between Versluys and an unwilling city council, the Ostend sky above the Siol hasn’t been cleared up completely yet, but at least there is more than one small sunray above the former fishermen’s vessel.
Versluys was rather pessimistic in March last year about the future of his vessel. Originally he wanted to restore it to go on sea and educate the people/tourists/young fishermen about ancient, but more ecological and sustainable fishing and preparing methods of grey shrimps, just like he does untill now with his vessel the Crangon. But the Siol was in such a terribly bad shape, it even sunk once after a storm, that a complete restoration to make it safe again to go on sea, would have cost at least 100.000 Euro.
But at least one step is taken now to prevent it from further deterioration and being destroyed under the hammer. Perhaps the safe return towards the old slipway (also a very interesting monument of Ostend marine industry), is even the beginning of the complete restoration. Who knows? There is hope again that the Siol once can go outside. Versluys is a fighter with the stubornness of a Flemish fisherman, as was proven with projects such as the Amandine (the last Iceland traveling fishing boat) and the Belgica, the wreck in the Norwegian fjord, once the ship of Adrien de Gerlache, our first Antarctica-explorer, together with Amundsen.