Page 50 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 50

 Chapter 3: THE SHIPS
It is no simple matter to find a way among the rich variety of types of ships and their tonnages, sailing under the flags of the Company's chambers during the seventeenth century. The advocaatand historian Pieter van Dam devoted many pages to this matter, without providing the twentieth-century researcher with clarity on every point.
Company shipbuilding according to ever changing instructions
Tn the early days the Company partly built its ships itself and partly purchased them, as well as some being passed on or sold to it by the State', thus V an Dam summarizes the early days of Asiatic shipping.1 From the start large ships were used for the long and often unfamiliar voyages, while small ships went along for purposes of reconnaissance. The first ships were acquired by purchase; three had already sailed for a voorcompagnie. On nume- rous occasions the state made men of war available. This happened still during the Twelve Years' Truce, in 1611 and 1619, when the States-General, for reasons of economy, forced the Admiralty Boards to hand over to the Company seven of their 'largest, best and qualified ships'. Building under contract in private shipyards went on for a long time.2
But in addition the Company began quite soon to fit out its own shipyards. It is not known when this happened and on what scale. For the first decades it is very difficult therefore to determine whether a ship was new on its first voyage and where it had been launched. Probably after 1620 most ships were products of Company yards, except for the fluyts. The Amsterdam and Zeeland chambers very soon had their own shipyards. The local authorities made sites available. The Amsterdam chamber at first used a site of the Oude Compagnie, but in 1608 fitted up a yard along the Rapenburg, next to the Amsterdam Admiralty yard. The Delft chamber soon after 1602 rented a municipal yard in Delfshaven for its own shipbuilding, which it purchased in 1671, and additional pieces of land were rented in the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is not known when the shipbuilding facilities of the other three chambers were arranged. Later when there was a considerable increase in the numbers of ships, some of the sites proved too small. The Amsterdam yard was moved to Oostenburg in 1661/62, where it was able to expand to a size and lay-out which at the time already attracted foreign visitors. From 1685 the Rot- terdam chamber used a yard between the Oostzeedijk and the Boerengat and no longer built at the Boompjes.3
Decisions on building, purchasing and leasing were made by the Heren Zeventien. Various relevant resolutions, for the early period as well, have been collected by V an Dam. The first one dates from 1603. A s soon as the chambers had shipyards of their own the Heren Zeventien laid down measurements to be observed in ship construction. On the whole these measurements only applied to length, width and depth. Length was measured at the level of the lower deck, the overloop, from the outside of the stem to the back of
1 Van Dam, Beschryvinge, vol. 63, 450.
2 Elias, De vlootbouw, 21, 32, 33 and 36; MacLeod, De Oost-Indische Compagnie I, 73 and 250;
Van Foreest and De Booy, De Vierde Schipvaart I, 31; Van Opstall, De reis van Pieter Willemsz
3 Overvoorde and De Roo de la Faille, De gebouwen, 39-53, 73, 90, 95,109 and 118; Wieringa, De
Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, 63-66; Wiersum, 'De gebouwen der O. I. C , kamer Delft te Delfshaven'.

   48   49   50   51   52