Page 103 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 103

 that is if the stay at the Cape (of 33 days on average) is not included.2 5 Unusually fast voyages were not made by the ordinary returning ships. Fast voyages were those of the FREDERIK HENDRIK (5205) in 1629 in 170 days, with a short stay at the Cape, of the RUST EN WERK (7029) in 1738 in 153 days with probably only a stop at S. Helena, and of the VREDESTEIN (7604) in 1761 in 171 days without any break at all. The packetboat FAAM (8257) completed the passage in 1789 in 141 days, but the hired ship LES SIX FRERES (8129) reached the Texel roadstead also in record time (148 days).
The distance between Ceylon and home was more than two thousand miles shorter than in the other direction. V ia the Channel it was approximately 13,000 miles. The average travelling time was 224 days. Taking into account a stay at the Cape of 31 days on average, this means that ships from Ceylon generally sailed at the same speed as those from Batavia. The voyage of the CERES (8039) in 1779 in 145 days must count as one of the fastest; only two days were spent at the Cape.
As noted earlier the direct consignments from China and Bengal were a great success as to travelling times. Although the runs were considerably longer, particularly the one from China, on average the voyages were faster than those from Batavia and Ceylon. The voyage from China took 225 days, that from Bengal 209 days. Even taking into account that these ships spent at least a week less at the Cape, the conclusion must be that the Bengal and China ships sailed faster on average. For instance a voyage of 162 days from Bengal without calling at the Cape was fast (7732), but not extraordinarily so, and the same goes for a voyage from China of 178 days, with a stay at the Cape of 17 days (7443).
Very long voyages occur throughout the entire period. The cause might be either the condition of the ship, wartime circumstances or faulty navigation. This type of voyage affected the average travelling times particularly in the later decades of the eighteenth century.
Hazards of the sea
It was a well known complaint that returning ships were often heavily laden, even overloa- ded. No major repair work took place in Asia. In particular when a ship had served in the intra-Asiatic trade it could be in poor condition on the home voyage, but even a short stay in the East was no guarantee of a safe voyage. In the eighteenth century however fewer ships took part in intra-Asiatic shipping and most ships returned home soon after arrival, as in a regular service. But in any case East Indiamen were at sea for at least eighteen months at a stretch, before being inspected by the master shipwrights of the six chambers. Accretion on the hull was a continuous process and could be removed only during a thorough overhaul. This accretion had a bad effect on the ship's speed. The number of crew was no more than a third of that on the journey out, sufficient for the actual work. But there are indications that ships returned home with insufficient crew, or became undermanned on the way through illness and death of crew members. During the eighteenth century more and more non-Europeans were engaged.
The percentage of ships which did not complete the return voyage (table 22) was twice as high as that for the voyage out. Y et again the number of disasters can not be considered high: 141. But in comparison with the seventeenth century the hazards of the sea had become greater during the eighteenth century. Whereas the number of voyages doubled, the number of accidents tripled.
25 Scanniteli, 'The New World', 405^t06.

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