Page 101 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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and together with the supply ships, awaited the returning fleet near the Shetlands or in the Channel. A financial agreement and special letters of articles were part of the arran- gement. It remained in force until the end.2 1
During the wars with England and France in particular all kinds of measures had to be taken to prevent attacks on the rendez-vous by enemy warships and privateers. The rendez- vous was changed every year and moved more north, usually somewhere between the Shetland- and Faeroe Islands. In the course of hostilities it was not always possible to provide a sufficient convoy. For safety's sake calls were made therefore at Norwegian, Danish and North German ports. A well known case in point is that of the return fleet (5523-5533) under Pieter de Bitter in 1665, which sought refuge in Bergen and there had to defend itself against an attack by English warships. In 1795 five returning ships (8391— 8393, 8395 and 8397) took refuge in Norwegian ports, accompanied by a few warships.22 During the last decades of the seventeenth century one man in particular was closely involved with the reception of the return fleet. He was Barend Fockes. He was considered 'very conversant with the harbours of the north'. H e regularly sailed to the Shetlands area, first in his own galliot, later in the Company's. Together with some other galliot masters he would sometimes act as leader in guiding the outward bound ships, or he would set out to meet the returning fleet to bring them the latest news, particularly in wartime, and guide them safely through this oceanic region. H e also had to try to counteract smuggling. Before his permanent appointment with the Amsterdam chamber, Fokkes had sailed as mate in Company ships for over twenty years, in Asia and in receiving the return fleet. With his galliot SNOEPER he was used as a fast messenger (1356 and 5718). In 1683 he was appointed commander and put in charge particularly of loading and unloading and bringing out the ships. During the Nine Years War he could frequently be found along the 'backway'. He is last mentioned in 1702. Apart from an annual salary of fl. 1,200 he also enjoyed various 'remunerations'.23
As well as convoyships and supply ships, pilots too were waiting to meet the returning fleet. Their vessels cruised at fixed points and were sighted with remarkable accuracy. These pilots were needed particularly in the Channel and on entering the Dutch coastal waters. The Zeeland chamber for instance had its own people for this purpose. Before September 15th each ship had to make for the harbour of its own chamber, after that date for 'the first harbour in this land fit to be entered, be it in Holland or Zeeland, to bring herself and her cargo to safety, and not with peril aiming for any one port.'2 4
b. Duration of the voyage
The oceanic regions between the Cape and home had no areas of particular difficulty. Only an unfavourable wind could mean delay in reaching home ports. The entire passage was about 7,500 miles in length, measured along the Channel route, round the north of Scotland it was a good 600 miles longer. The average travelling time for ships from Batavia
21 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 68, 41-42 and particularly 555-605; Bruijn, De admiraliteit, 21-22; ARA, A A 1327, see various instructions to naval officers between 1644 and 1657.
22 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 68, 13-40; Warnsinck, De retourvloot; De Jong, Reizen 2nd vol., letter XIII et seq.
23 Leupe, 'Barent Fockesz.'; Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63,674, vol. 68,29-30,34,38and 578.
to G and R of the Cape 27.6.1754.

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