The fishermen who never came home

“Are they nearly here, Mum? Can you see anything?” “No son, not yet, but they should
Be back soon.” Alas, the women and children in Paesens”

Moddergat waited in vain when 17 ships with 83 fishermen on board died on the night of 5/6 March 1883. The entire village mourned the tragedy. It was actually much too early in the spring to go out to sea, but stocks were running low, and no fishing meant no income. The seemingly quiet spring weather drew 22 ships out to sea in early
March 1883. On the second night,
the Paesens

Moddergat fishing fleet was caught unawares by one of the heaviest spring storms ever. Eighty three fishermen perished in the freezing waves of the sea, north of the Wadden Islands. The youngest victim was just 12 years old, the oldest 71. The entire village was left in mourning, since there was not a single family that hadn’t lost one of its beloved. Gerben Basteleur, 31 years old, was the only man to survive the tragedy.

His uncle, Kornelis Visser,
also survived initially, but Gerben had to wa
tch as he finally succumbed to exhaustion and died.
Gerben was discovered by the islanders of Schiermonnikoog, more dead than alive. Shortly after the
disaster, financial needs forced Gerben to return to the sea. In a tragic twist, he caught the corpse of
his brother Jan while fishing. Gerben only dared to speak of what happened after he’d sold all the
fish from the catch, because the village desperately needed the

The monument in memory of the 83 fishermen who died in the storm can be seen on the sea dyke opposite ’t Fiskershúske Museum.

Fiskerspaad 4 – 8a, Moddergat
Easter holiday until autumn holiday, Mon to Sat 10:00 to 17:00
During July and August, also on Sundays 13:00 to 17:00.