Page 44 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 44

 to a reduction in costs.33 Amsterdam indicated that shortly before 1791 there were still 1,319 workmen - carpenters, dockhands, smiths etc. - employed in the yard, but that 245 of these had been dismissed. Not all the chambers' lists are as full as that of Amsterdam,
sometimes using different classifications which make an exact comparison impossible. The Enkhuizen chamber reported its shipyard as employing under the equipagemeester one bookkeeper, one master shipwright, tw o foremen and a boatswain, while usually 150 workmen were involved in shipbuilding and repairs. In Middelburg the Zeeland directors counted 690 workmen in the shipyard and the rope-walk. These numbers are more or less commensurate with the share of Company activity due to each chamber, and they support the argument, so readily employed by the Heren Zeventien, when on the defensive against the authorities, that the VOC provided a good deal of employment in the Republic.
In the roads
When a ship had been completed, or when repairs were finished, a last inspection took place by the equipagemeester or the first bookkeeper, the master shipwright and the master who was to sail the ship to Asia. The ship was then ready to be towed out of the palisaded stretch of water in front of the shipyard, the hok (pen) , and taken to the roads.
All chambers shared the circumstance of a considerable distance between the shipyard and the roadstead from where the ships put to sea. Ships from the Amsterdam and Noor- derkwartier chambers sailed from the roadstead below the island of Texel, the Moscovische rede, or from the more southerly Vlieter. There the ships were sheltered from westerlies and southwesterlies. From these roads the North Sea could be reached via the Marsdiep between Texel and Den Helder. On entering open sea there was a choice of two channels: the Nieuw-Spanjaardse Gat veering northwestward, or the Landsdiep leading in a south- westerly direction. (See map 1). The Eierlandse Gat north of Texel was too shallow for large ships, though in 1749 an East Indiaman was piloted in through this inlet at great risk.3 4
When the Marsdiep could not be sailed, it was considered better to use the Vlie between the islands of Vlieland and Terschelling. In particular in the mid-seventeenth century this channel was used by incoming as well as by outgoing ships. But later this route fell into disuse. The ensueing route across the Wad was difficult and laborious. Moreover, it was not supervised: in 1718 the ship NOORDBEEK (6416), putting in via the Vlie, was said to have unloaded large amounts o f private goods onto a barge from Vlieland.3 5 Even further from Texel was the Amelander Gat, an entry into the Wad not normally used by VOC ships. In 1613 the WAPEN VAN AMSTERDAM (5099) was grounded there and wrecked, in 1632 the NASSAU (5220) only just managed to put in safely through this channel whereas the NIJMEGEN (5221), returning simultaneously, was blown further westward and wrecked on the Borkumer Rif.
It was not too easy either for ships from Amsterdam, Hoorn or Enkhuizen to reach Texel: the route across the Zuiderzee had many shallows, of which the Pampus facing Amsterdam was by far the most difficult to negotiate. From around 1690 ships made use there of the so-called camels, ships' lighters consisting of two connected halves, which were manoeuvred against the sides of the ship. By pumping out the water the ship was
33 A R A , VOC 202, res. Heren 17, 29th March 1791, plus the appendix to this m eeting.
34 About the estuaries of Holland: Tegenwoordige Staat, XVIII, 569-585, including the remark on
the VOC ship of 1749; also Sigmond, 'Havens', 83-84.
35 A R A , VOC 250, res. A'dam, 8, 15 and 25.8.1718.

   42   43   44   45   46