Page 63 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 in the South China Sea, where three-deckers proved so successful. The experiment was not repeated.
Innovations in the eighties and nineties
In 1788 a new type ship was introduced, the paketboot (packetboat). Its introduction had been forced on the Company by the States-General. The presence, for the first time in 1784, of Dutch warships in Asia, had confronted civil and military authorities in The Hague with the deficiency of communications between Asia and the Republic. Political disputes with Spain about the Phillippine trade made the matter urgent. In 1786 the States-General made a pressing appeal to the Company 'to contrive the necessary arran­ gements to introduce, if possible, packetboats between the Republic and the Cape of Good Hope, at fixed times in the year, and vice versa, and similarly from the Cape to Ceylon and to Batavia, both there and back'.
The Company could not ignore this request. It hoped to cover the costs by the carrying of letters and parcels 'against payment of a moderate porto', and by return cargoes of tin, pepper, coffee or cloves. In 1788 no fewer than ten packetboats were built, four of them by the Amsterdam chamber (4615, 4627, 4636, 4638, 4648, 4654, 4657, 4665, 4667 and 4690). Appropriate names were VLIJT, HAASJE, EXPEDITIE and SNELHEID. Four times a year, on March 1st, June 1st, September 1st and December 1st, a packetboat was to leave the Netherlands and, according to the schedule, sail to the Cape in three months and from there to Batavia in two months. The connection between the Cape and Ceylon was to be a twice yearly one.
The name packetboat indicated its function - in type it was a cutter, a one-masted ship designed for speed. It carried fore-and-aft rigging. The navy too, used this type of ship. It was 80 ft in length and could carry sixty last. It had a crew of 24 hands. A bounty of twenty guilders was made available for every day a packetboat stayed within the set time. A voyage out and back could indeed be accomplished inside twelve months, but the scheduled departure dates proved impossible to keep. Until 1794 these cutters continued to sail as packetboats, more or less regularly, in spite of disappointing income from postal services and proposals to halve the number of ships. In and after 1794 most of them fell into French and English hands.44
After the cutter yet another type of ship appeared in the fleet during the last years of the Company's existence. Due to the hiring and purchasing of merchant ships from private shipbuilders and owners, which was necessary during and following the Fourth Anglo- Dutch W ar (1780-1784), master shipwrights, commissioners of the shipyards and directors saw besides East Indiamen other large merchantmen in their shipyards. Shortage of money forced reconsideration of the costs of building and equipping. Investigation showed that a three-masted pink (pink-ship) could mean enormous savings. The Zeeland chamber had already procured such a ship in 1786: the VEERE (4581). In 1791 a proposal was made to this effect. The Amsterdam chamber built the CEYLON (4742) and hired another one (4787). The Zeeland chamber invested in two: the ZUIDPOOL (4772) and the ZORG (4788), equipping them with a continuous upper deck in place of the waist. The Delft and Hoorn chambers too were to begin building such ships in 1794. But that was not to be.
Once again it was an Udemans who demonstrated the advantages of the pink-ship most persuasively. It was a ship of 142 χ 36 χ 17 ft, i.e. a large sized merchantman, a three-master
44 De Hullu (probably), 'Oost-Indische paketbooten'; A R A , 5143.

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