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Jacques Brel’s yacht could become protected heritage

The remnants of the Askoy II. Credit: Belga

The restoration of the imposing yacht once owned by late Belgian singer Jacques Brel is almost finished and could now become protected under the national patrimony.

If Flemish Heritage Minister Matthias Diependaele has his way, the Askoy II should be considered nautical heritage.

“The ship, better known as ‘Jacques Brel’s boat,’, has historical, industrial, archaeological, and socio-cultural value,” Diependaele said.

Brel bought the Askoy II, which was Belgium’s biggest sailing yacht in the 1960s, in 1974, and once he learned to sail with the ship, he took it to the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia.

After reselling it in 1976, the ship remained at sea for over a decade in New Zealand, until brothers Staf and Piet Wittevrongel from Blankenberge launched an ambitious project to restore it.

“I am happy that the Wittevrongel brothers became involved in this project,” Diependaele said.

“They have done an enormous job with volunteers. That’s why I also wish to launch the procedure for the protection of the Askoy II as part of the nautical heritage.”

The procedure for something to become heritage consists of two steps: first, it must get provisional protection and then final protection.

The Brussels Times