Stichting De Palingaak is the foundation that has built a new wooden eel barge that was launched in Heeg (Friesland) in 2009. The foundation is completely based on volunteers.
Centuries ago the eel barge was developed in Friesland (NL) for the overseas transportation of living eel. The eel was transported in open wells, big spaces down in the ship with little holes that let the fresh water through. Eel had always been very nourishing food for the London population and the main source of fresh fish for centuries.
From the 17th century onwards to the beginning of the 20th century the Dutch eel barges brought the living eel from Friesland to London. In the river Thames near Billingsgate Fishmarket they had their own mooring, the so-called Dutch Mooring, free of charge. On old pictures of this part of London you always see the Dutch Mooring with two or three eel barges.
20,000 pounds of eel could be transported in one eel barge. The crew consisted of only a skipper and two mates. In the top period of the trade some sixteen vessels visited London about six times a year, bringing together around 2 million pounds of living eel to the city.
Just before World War II the last two eel barges were demolished. It took us about ten years to gain enough knowledge to be able to build a new eel barge similar to the original ones.
So, no major changes having been made from the historical design, modern navigation regulations dedicate that next to the crew only twelve guests may be on board while sailing.
Although this is a limitation to us, it adds to making a trip on this unique eel barge a very special one!
The Korneliske Ykes II is called after the original Korneliske Ykes, which in turn was named after the wife of the owner and the largest merchant in those days.
The ship is used for private sailing tours and/or visit special occasions such as various Sail events (including Sail Amsterdam 2010 and 2015). Catering on board is in our own hands.
Until today we did not succeed in sailing the eel barge overseas to London again, but who knows what will lie ahead?