‘T Boomke preserves seafaring tradition

Friday 25 05 2018

A "little tree" made of steel was recently erected on the banks of the Scheldt bearing a port haiku by the local artist and writer Geert De Kockere. It marks the spot where in centuries past an actual tree ('t Boomke) pointed the way to mariners as they approached the port or left it once more.

For centuries, seafarers celebrated a safe homecoming as they passed this landmark, with a glass of rum as reward. And when they left the port again, tradition required that the ship had to be ready for the transition from the calmer waters of the estuary to the high waves of the open sea by the time it passed the way-tree. But eventually the tree disappeared. This splendid tradition has now been revived, thanks to an artificial, permanent tree.

“Not enough people are familiar with the old maritime traditions and the rich variety of social life in and around the port. We want to rectify this situation. This tree is a symbolic meeting point between maritime heritage and contemporary society, of which we are enormously proud.” says port alderman Marc Van Peel.