Page 112 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 112

 weeks on average. For homeward bound ships the Cape was not quite so much off course, but because of long continued adherence to joint departures for home, many a ship had to stay and wait. Their average length of stay rose to four to five weeks.
Other companies' ships were not usually confronted with such delays. The Cape Verde Islands - often frequented by Dutch ships also, as already pointed out - were situated right on the outward route, S. Helena, Ascension and the Azores on the return route. Calling at these islands meant no detour and cost much less time. This is illustrated by the fact that it took the great Company ship the GOEDE TROUW (4599) in 1788 only 160 days to reach Batavia, bypassing the Cape. A t that time this voyage normally took 246 days on average. Two years later the GOEDE TROUW (4663) did what other ships so faithfully stuck to: she stopped at the Cape. This time the voyage to Batavia took 203 days. For the ship ZUIDPOOL (4772) in 1794, 124 days passed between departure from the Republic and setting sail from Table Bay (the average was then 158 days). In 1802 this ZUIDPOOL, now the 'Graaf Christiaan Bernstorff under Danish flag, needed only 16 more days to sail straight through to Batavia.1 7
At the end of the eighteenth century logistic interests alone made the Cape indispensable for the British. For Dutch shipping however the Cape lost its reason for existence when the Company came to an end. Like the Swedish merchantmen in the eighteenth century, so the nineteenth century Dutch merchantmen could get by with one brief stop at one of the islands, or sail directly for Java. For their crews had of course become much smaller.
An attempted comparison of duration of voyages
Data on travelling times between the Republic and Asia invite comparison with those of other companies. This is not a simple matter however. For the route from the Thames estuary to Bombay a time of seven to eight months is recorded, without further specifica- tion. Eighteenth century data on the Compagnie des Indes always give two figures within which a certain route was completed by an unspecified number of ships. In spite of their incompleteness these data create the impression that French voyages lasted shorter than the Dutch ones, for example return voyages from four to six weeks. French ships tended to stick to a course west or east of Madagascar and developed supply stations on Bourbon (Réunion) and Ile de France (Mauritius). Portuguese ships were at sea for six months between Lisbon and Goa. Detailed figures however are available for the small Danish and Swedish companies over the period after 1730, and on one particular route this lends itself to a comparison with Dutch shipping.1 8 In this context some striking eighteenth century features, already pinpointed in the chapters 3-5, can be further examined.
The comparison concerns the China trade, dealt with among others by the Frenchman Dermigny in his great study. In the eighteenth century every selfrespecting European country trading with Asia sent ships to China. In Canton no monopolies were recognized and every European was at liberty to buy tea, porcelain and silk there. For long the VOC refrained from a direct link with China. The Chinese themselves brought the desired
17 Data on the vicissitudes of the ship ZUIDPOOL after 1795 were extracted from the archives of the Oost-Indisch Comité and of the Raad van Aziatische Bezittingen, by Mrs. E. S. van Eyck van Heslinga.
18 Chaudhuri, 'Ports of call', 158; Denoix, 'Les escales de la Compagnie des Indes', 211-216 and 224-226. Godinho (Os descobrimentos, II, 73-74) has calculated the duration of Portuguese voyages up to 1635 inclusive; see also Boxer, 'The Carreira da India', 36. Also the publications
by G0bel, Velschow and Koninckx mentioned in notes 1, 6 and 11.

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