Page 104 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 104

 Table 22: Losses of ships on homeward voyage
resp. percentages of the total of return voyages
1602-24 6 1 4,9%
1625-49 5 1 2,5%
1650-74 10 6 3,4%
1675-99 13 1 3,6%
1700-24 16 - 2,7%
1725-49 44 - 6,3%
0,8% 0,5% 2,0% 0,3% -
1750-74 22 3,7% -
0,9% 0,8%
1775-95 25 19 5,3% 1602-1699 34 9 3,4%
1700-95 107 19 4,5%
Next to numerous years when the complete return fleet arrived home safely, there were periods when the Company suffered heavy losses. This was particularly the case in the years 1722/26, 1737/44 and 1784/90, when ten, thirty-two and fourteen ships respectively were lost en route. Comparable periods of adversity were the years 1662/67, 1777/82 and 1794/95: war damage included, twelve, twenty-three and eleven ships respectively were lost. Comparatively safe periods were 1616-1661 and the fifties and sixties of the eighteenth century. Between 1648 and 1661 not even a single ship was lost.
The years 1721/48 were a period of unprecedented disaster, as regards both outward and return voyages. No,less than 89 ships did not reach their destination either in Asia or in the Republic, five-percent of the total number of voyages. 1722 was pre-eminently the year of disaster: five outward bound ships were lost at the Cape, and six returning vessels near Mauritius. On May 21st 1737 in Table Bay eight returning ships went down in one day.
In contrast to the voyage out, the Indian Ocean was by far the most dangerous stage. Half of all accidents (72) took place there. In particular the region near Mauritius and Madagascar, notorious for its cyclones, demanded its toll during the first months of the year. Rounding the southern tip of Africa too presented sometimes fatal problems. There were ample grounds for the Company's measures in the eighteenth century regarding times of departure from Asia and stay at the Cape! Otherwise making for the bays near Cape Town did not present particular problems, apart from some spectacular losses.
After leaving the Cape the greatest dangers were over, at least judging by the sites of most disasters. The route round the north or through the Channel was practically always completed during the summer months. Few ships encountered serious difficulties there. The same applied to the approach of the Dutch coastal waters. In total only thirteen returning ships were wrecked on the coasts of Holland and Zeeland. The stranding of a richly laden East Indiaman was indeed a rare phenomenon.26
Through acts of war the Company lost a total of 28 ships, all but four to the English. It happened during the Second and Third English Wars (six), the Fourth EnglishWar (eight), and finally in 1794/5 ten. The others fell into Portuguese and French hands. It is remarkable that between 1674 and 1781 with just one exception not a single returning
26 See for example Dekker, 'De ramp'.

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