Waterfront: 3,000 small boats to form one long line from Ostend to Zeebrugge

The long-awaited Waterfront event got underway on Friday evening, when 6,000 volunteers ventured into the cold waves of the North Sea at our Belgian coast, to display 3,000 boats carrying messages to remember the fallen soldiers, 100 years ago.

The volunteers formed one symbolic line, from Ostend to Zeebrugge. The boats displayed personal messages of peace, 100 years after the Great War. Among those leaving their personal message, were Belgium's King Filip and Queen Mathilde, and Australia's Governor-General Peter Cosgrove.

The former and the latter delivered a speech in Wenduine, to commemorate the war victims who perished on the sea in particular. While Filip thanked the Australians for their support, Cosgrove expressed his gratitude for the special commemoration event.  

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Participants could take the boats home. They were designed to be transformed into a sitting bag. Four youngsters had the honour to carry Filip's and Cosgrove's boats to the coastline, but kept it a secret when asked what the dignitaries had written exactly. 

The event was part of GoneWest, the cultural commemoration project of West Flanders province, and was another major event after Lichtfront, Woordfront, Kraterfront and the 30,000th Last Post. 

The North Sea was the scene of a fierce battle in 1918. Allied forces tried to block the occupied ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge, which was not a complete success, but still it played a role towards the end of the war in November 1918.  

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