Page 88 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
P. 88

 longer run to Ceylon was on average completed in 252 days. The fluctuations already noted in table 11 b show up in table 12 as well. The extremes range from 209 to 279 days per decade.
Hazards of the sea
The voyage to Asia might be a long one, it very rarely ended fatally. On relatively few occasions were ships wrecked by storm, fog, faulty navigation or unseaworthiness. Many years all ships arrived safely at their destinations. A total of 105 vessels was lost due to hazards of the sea (table 13), i.e. two percent of all outward voyages could not be completed because of mishap, during the eighteenth century relatively fewer than in the seventeenth. Notably small were the losses during the first twenty years of the VOCs existence and over the period 1750/80.
Table 13: Losses of ships on outward voyage
resp. percentages of the total of voyages
1602-24 4
1625-49 14
1650-74 12
1674-99 11
1700-24 21
1725-49 26
1750-74 8-1%- 1775-94 9 11 1V2% 2%
1602-99 41 14 2V4% 3/4% 1700-94 64222%V4%
More than half of theseohips (55) came to grief during the first part of the voyage. The coastal waters of Great Britain formed the greatest danger, particularly the south coast, The Downs and the seas round Scotland and the Shetland Islands. Twenty-seven times an East Indiaman laden with precious metals and other goods was wrecked here. In the eighteenth century the Channel route claimed many losses during the autumn and winter months. The last disaster on the northern route took place in 1728 (2729). The seven previous ones all happened in times of war, when the Channel route was considered too dangerous. The Dutch coast too with its many sandbanks claimed victims from time to time - seventeen in all. So it was that the Zeeland chamber on February 3rd, 1735, lost at the same time the ANNA CATHARINAand Τ VLIEGENDHERT (2977 and 2978), with more than four hundred souls, on the Walcheren sandbanks.
The run across the Atlantic was no more dangerous than that across the Indian Ocean. Entering Table Bay and other bays near the Cape could be risky and fatal. Eighteen ships were lost here on their voyage out, no less than nine of them between 1722 and 1728. As already mentioned, in the middle of the southern winter of 1722 five ships sank simulta­ neously. This incident also illustrates the fact that sometimes it was extreme weather that at one blow wreaked great havoc and caused the average of losses to be much higher than in most 'normal' years. The number of wreckings on the Australian west coast was probably no higher than four; the last one occurred in 1727 (2680).34
34 Sigmond and Zuiderbaan, Dutch discoveries.
2 6 6
V/2% - 3V2%
2% 1% 2% 1% 23/4% V/2% 3% -

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