Photos: This amazing schooner sailed to Ramsgate from Ostend as part of a campaign to restore the ferry service

The TS Rupel Photo John Smiddy Smith

These stunning photos of the TS Rupel schooner in Ramsgate were taken by resident John Smiddy Smith.

The vessel, based on an historic 18th Century craft, arrived in the harbour yesterday (May 23) as part of a campaign to restart a ferry service to Belgium from the port.

Photo John Smiddy Smith

Members of the VZW Restart group in  Ostend, led by Danny Drooghenbroodt, skippered the TS Rupel to the Royal Harbour for the two-day visit.

The schooner, which has a salute cannon onboard, resembles the crafts that used to carry post between Ostend and the UK in the 1700s.

The crossing was a symbolic gesture of the route between Ostend and Ramsgate which used to be serviced by TransEuropa Ferries until the firm was declared bankrupt in 2013.

During the visit Danny met with Ramsgate mayor Trevor Shonk and former mayor Patricia Moore.

He said: “We talked about ferries from Ostend to Ramsgate. We are talking to a lot of people. The next step is finding people to make it happen, and then of course the money.

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“One of the things we would like to try is chartering a ship to prove it is feasible. That is expensive though, hundreds of thousands of Euros.

“Since the ferry stopped a lot of business in Ostend has stopped too. We miss the British coming to use our pubs as a lot of business was based on British tourism.

“And we think for Ramsgate too, it was good to have people coming to visit and shop.”

Danny and his companions took residents out for trips in the craft today, including John who said he had “a fantastic” time.

The TS Rupel is due to head back to Ostend tonight (May 24).

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