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Before we launch into the 2020 season of Open Days and visiting historic boats we look back on a particularly special barge visiting from The Netherlands in 2019

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Korneliske Ykes II, a replica wooden eel sailing barge built about ten years ago, sailed over to London in June of 2019 with a small cargo of live eels in the sea water well designed (as with the original boats) integral to the vessel. There were about 400 visitors to the barge over the open weekend.

During the stay the palinaak (eel barge) and her crew managed to squeeze in many events and activities. The barge was sailed through Tower Bridge (with bridge lift) twice, on one occasion with the son and grandson of one of the last crew members of the last eel barge that sailed to London. The crew and guests made a visit to the new Billingsgate fish market (located in the Isle of Dogs) and to Greenwich including the old Royal Naval College and the Cutty Sark.

They attended the Dutch Church in the City for a commemorative service for Frisian and Dutch sailors who passed away whilst in London over the centuries. They also presented at the Sustainable Eel congress, talking about the history of eel barges, and later having a reception at the pier house at Hermitage with eel ‘bites’ prepared by a Dutch master chef. And on the subject of eel cooking, two great grandchildren of a captain of one of the eel barges in the late 1800’s (Pieter Hak) came to visit, one of whom still runs the “Noted Eel & Pie House” in  Leytonstone that was started by one of the sons of Pieter Hak.  Last but not least the crew were welcomed to a Hermitage BBQ with the members and residents of Hermitage.

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