17 August 2015 - From: The Bonaire Reporter

Restoring a 64-year-old wooden sailing ship is an enormous project that requires help from all kinds of people. Fortunately for Fundashon Patrimonio Marítimo Boneiru (Bonaire Maritime Heritage Foundation), a number of individuals and organizations have contributed to Project Stormvogel, the restoration of the last sailing cargo boat of the ABC islands.

Take, for instance, a contribution from just-departed resident Patrick Hulsker. While cleaning out his garage in preparation for his family’s move back to Holland, Hulsker uncovered two used sails and donated them to Stormvogel. The jibs were no longer usable for sailing, but the restoration crew thought they might be perfect as a sun shade. They were taken to the Phish Phaktory, a company that crafts all types of products from canvas, cloth and wood. “We started Phish Phaktory a year ago and have been fortunate enough to have support from a lot of people involved in the Stormvogel project,” says Suus Zelders, co-owner. “We really wanted to give back to those who have helped and at the same time be part of restoring such a historic part of Bonairean culture. We plan to be more involved with Stormvogel in the coming months."

Besides materials and services, a number of individuals have given cash contributions to the project. That money allowed the foundation to transfer Stormvogel from Curacao in March to its current location at the Navegante Boatyard in Hato. Now organizations are starting to fund Phase Two of the project, the historic restoration of the boat. Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds of the Caribbean region awarded the foundation nearly $15,000 to fund the Junior Shipwright program. This is one of the educational outreach efforts of Project Stormvogel designed to involve the community in the maritime heritage of Bonaire. Students from SBG high school, Junior Rangers, CIEE and other youth groups will work along side the restoration crew and learn basic boat building skills. In the process, youth will learn about Stormvogel and its fascinating history. This program will begin this month.

The foundation is also seeking corporate contributions for the project. Last year, Cargill Salt awarded Project Stormvogel funds for the restoration and this summer BOPEC (Bonaire Petroleum Company) contributed $5000 to the project. “That money has allowed us to buy essential supplies and materials,” say head of the restoration, Johnny Craane. “Right now we are stabilizing the boat with 2x4's and other wood. But we have also turned the place into a work site that needed ladders, tools, and fasteners. The corporate funds have allowed us to continue the restoration at a good pace.”

You can contribute to this unique community project in several ways. Cash contributions can be sent to Fundashon Patrimonio Marítimo Boneiru, MCB account #40934710. Categories include corporate contributions $5000+, Fleet Commander $1000+, Admiral $500+, Captain $250+, Ensign $100+ and First Mate, less than $100. Also, by purchasing Stormvogel products such as T-shirts ($20), bottle koozies ($5) and bumper stickers ($3), you can help the cause. These items are available at Boutique Vita on Kaya Grandi, the Zazu Bar at Harbour Village Marina and Budget Marine. Or visit the Navegante Boatyard on any Wednesday or Saturday morning. You can buy all items there and get to see Bonaire’s historical ship up-close. All proceeds go directly to the restoration.