Page 117 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 started sailing with the Company, with permission from their Admiralty Boards.3 2
This increased attention in the forties to instructions, ships and officers, extended also to navigational instruments and sea charts. The examiner of mates for the Amsterdam chamber, Jan de Marre (1745-1763), managed to convince the directors of the necessity
for modernization in this field. A 'General List' of instruments and charts required on board ship, compiled in 1675, had been revised in 1731. De Marre however was able to show in 1746 that without extra expenditure 'more necessary and accurate instruments and charts' might be introduced. This came about in 1747. As a result the Company soon established the use of the recently (1731) designed octant from England, for an easier and more accurate determination of latitude. De Marre found a number of charts to be defective, and improved them. In 1753 he edited the sixth volume of the Zee-fakkel, in which the most up to date charts of the VOC empire appeared in print. As a result of hydrographical work in Batavia the Indonesian Archipelago was better charted, in parti- cular the south coast of Java, so important to ships seeking entry into the Sunda Strait. In 1753 in Batavia a special examiner of sea charts was appointed (Ohdim).3 3 The extent to which correct navigation was emphasized in those years becomes apparent from a note examining reasons why between 1749 and 1755 some six ships suffered delays.34
This complement of measures did undoubtedly contribute to speedier and especially safer voyages to and from Asia, including China, from the forties onward, as also shown in tables 12-13 and 21-22 in the two previous chapters. Whereas during the thirties a voyage to Batavia lasted o n average 246 days, twenty o r thirty years later this w as a fortnight less. The difference was even greater on the return voyage: in the sixties no less than a month shorter than during the previous three decades. Safety was enormously improved. Shipping disasters can not always be avoided, and the frequency of extremely heavy storms is not equal for each period. But no longer did at least one or more ships disappear below the waves every year, as in the period 1718-1747. In particular the sixties are notable for fast voyages and low accident rates: of a total of 528 voyages out and back, one ship was lost on the outward voyage and six on return.
And yet the Company lagged behind others in sailing speeds, as shown in the China trade. The wave of innovations slowly subsided again. The value of improvements in navigational aids decreased when for instance hydrographical work in the Batavia carto- grapher's shop began to tail off in 1760. Volume six of the Zee-fakkel was not revised either. Complaints about incomplete or faulty charts became more numerous from the seventies on. 'The oceanic chart south of the Line cries out for improvement', reported the naval officer J. O . Vaillant in 1789. In the China trade Jan de Marre's map was still used in 1790, an improved version by naval officer A. E . van Braam Houckgeest was put aside.35 Additional data or corrections in the many journals on this route were contrary to instructions and former practices no longer incorporated into the chart. The Académie de Marine for trainee officers was closed down in 1755. The Generale Lijst of instruments and charts on board was scarcely kept under revision. Only the number of octants was
32 Heeres, 'De 'Consideration", 457-461 and 564-565; Crone, Cornells Douwes, chapter IV; Raven, 'Blijven of weggaan?', 35-39.
33 Schilder and Mörzer Bruyns, 'Navigatie' III, 198-205 and 212.
34 A R A , Collection Van Braam 149; further details about this research are not available.
35 A R A , Admiraliteits Archieven XII, 6 no. 28, Vaillant to Commission Van Swinden 31.5.1789
(Miss S. Dörr in The Hague pointed this out); Jörg, Porcelain, 331 and 333.

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