Page 130 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 A costly sojourn
In chapter 6 it has already been pointed out that the Cape was indispensable as staging
post for the large V O C fleets, but that a t the same time the long waiting periods o f the
East Indiamen at the Cape led to a considerable increase in the duration of the voyage.
These long waiting periods will have been partly due to the fact that masters were not in
a hurry to leave: opportunities for private trading, or simply the agreeable sojourn invited
a prolonged stay. But there were other causes. The rule for the homeward ships to sail
in company meant waiting for latecomers and sometimes for repairs to one of the ships.
Difficulties resulting from insufficient manpower for the ships, communication problems,
like the delayed receipt of instructions for the homeward fleet, shortages in provisions,and
the duties o f the commanders o f the homeward fleets as 'Kaaps commissaris', could all
mean delay in departure. The costs and benefits t o shipping o f calling a t the Cape can
not be expressed in figures. One can only guess at the number of seafarers, or ships, who
thanks to the facilities offered by the Cape, managed to end up safely at their destinations.
The costs of these facilities themselves however can be expressed in figures. The settle-
ment a t the Cape was for the V O C a moneyloser, i.e. every year the books were closed
with a deficit. These deficits amounted early in the eighteenth century to an annual
fl 150,000, but after 1750 usually exceeded the fl 300,000 mark.
The main item of expen-
diture consisted of the supply to the ships of provisions, drink and ship's stores. In addition
the wages o f the Company servants had t o b e paid, t h e buildings maintained, rations
supplied t o the servants and numerous sundry items paid for. Income from the sale o f
Company goods, and from rents and taxes, did not offset the costs. How much the deficit
could vary from one year to the next is clear from the figures for the years 1775/76,1776/77
and 1777/78:
Table 26: Expenses at The Cape 1775-1778
1775- 76
1776- 77
1777- 78
fl 346,715
number of ships
at the Cape
5 0
4 9
On the basis of these figures it can be concluded that, in these years at least, about fl 3,000
per ship was spent on the supply of provisions and équipement, bearing in mind however
that in those cases where ships at the Cape had to be provided not only with extra victuals
but with
for the
t o
for instance
Asia, costs
could b e
considerably higher. Thus in 1777/78 fl 28,513 was spent on dispatching the fluyt HOOP
to Batavia alone.
In directors' letters to the governor and council at the Cape there is no lack of warnings
Klerk de Reus, Geschichtlicher Ueberblick, App. IX .
Jeffreys (ed.), Kaapse Archiefstukken 1778,112-116, 291,322-324. The financial year at the Cape
ran from September 1st until August 31st.
Itwas customaryfor one or.two shipstosailfromBataviatothe Capeeachyearwithriceand
other requirements, to be sent back again to Batavia with wheat and wine; these ships were called
the 'victualling ships'. Apart from these voyages and the voyage of the HOOP, a number of ships
were sent from the Cape to Europe over the years 1775-1778: 2 in 1775-76 (7964, 7966), 1 in
1776-77 (7991) and none in 1777-78.

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