Page 115 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 At first the majority of French, Danish and Swedish ships returned home in July and August, eventually in June and July. The Dutch did not arrive until June to September, later mostly in July. Table 25 illustrates this shift. Did Dutch Chinamen sail more slowly than others and did they carry less adequate crews?
VOC ships sail more slowly
Dutch ships appear to have been slower. The Danes reached the Sont in 189 days, later on, when they called at the Cape, in 203 days. VOC ships from Canton needed on average 225 days to cover a slightly shorter distance. The contrast can be shown more sharply still: in the years 1770-1790 the Danes took no more than 84 days to Cape Town,2 4 the Dutch 98 days, a fortnight longer. The Swedes made times similar to the Danes. The supposition presents itself that the VOC lagged behind in the art of shipbuilding and of navigation.
The two northern companies had an officers corps on their Chinamen with far more experience of this route than their Dutch counterparts. The China trade was their main consideration. The same ships would often sail for years with the same masters and officers. Before becoming master a mate would need to have sailed the route a number of times. After that it was not unusual for him as master to make six voyages to Canton. French officers had their own training course at Lorient and formed a close body.2 5 No research has yet been done into training and career structure of VOC officers. But it can be stated already that for the great majority of masters a voyage to China in that rank was a first experience. The Company would not allow the China trade to become routine for its masters, thus wasting valuable experience. Only a few masters made the voyage to Canton three or four times.26 Many a foreign colleague spent years sailing the route, and knew the dangers as well as the opportunities for shortening the voyage. Such a colleague was not usually tied to elaborate instructions prescribing courses to be taken in every oceanic region. This 'leaving undefined the courses the commanding officers must follow' was something a VOC-master might well have wished for. The Company left little to his own initiative or insight.27
Whether the VOC did sufficiently use the right type of ship in the China trade was for contemporaries a much argued point. The draught of harbours and estuaries at home did to some extent determine the hull shape. This same contemporary talked about copper-bot­ toming the ships to increase speed and safety. By 1788 the majority of the East India Company's Chinamen were copper-bottomed, as already mentioned. The VOC did not begin to consider this procedure seriously until after this year, and in 1792 took a provisio­ nal positive decision. Y et this is not the explanation for the Scandinavians' greater speed. They did not start copper-bottoming until after 1792,28 and besides, barnacles on the hull could not affect Dutch ships adversely yet, as they were still on their maiden voyage.
24 G0bel, 'Kinafarter', 29; Velschow, 'Voyages', 146.
25 G0bel, 'Voyages to China', 22-24; Koninckx, Swedish East India Company, 305-314; Dermigny,
La Chine, 222-232; Aman, Les officiers bleus, 13-20.
26 They were Κ. Kuiper (4x in 1761-1771), B. C. Muller (3x in 1783-1790), J. Och (4x in 1767-1778),
K. Pietersen (3x in 1763-1773), W. Popta (4x in 1767-1778), J. van Voorst (3x in 1775-1780) and
J. Wiebe (3x in 1759-1767). 27ARA,VOC198,res.Heren17of4.12.1788;Stavorinus,VoyagesIII,465-467;G0bel,'Kinafarter',
28 V elschow , 'V oyages', 147.

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