Page 97 - Dutch Asiatic Shipping Volume 1
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 Table 16c: Average duration of voyage Bengal/China - The Cape by month of departure (in days)
1725-49 75 93 1750-74 81 104 1775-95 74 77
The Cape as port of call
79 102
87 79 79 80 73 75
97 89 94 115 93 105
112 104 97 101
Cape Town was the only harbour where ships were not only allowed but obliged to call. The origins and development of this supply station have been described in chapters 4 and 7, as well as the hazards of Table Bay during the Cape winter. Then it was difficult to enter the bay, and ships riding at anchor were not always safe. In 1742 homeward ships too were forbidden to stay in Table Bay during the period May 15th - August 15th, which in 1794 was extended to April 10th - September 1st. This extension was the result of the stranding of seven ships in a storm on 12th April 1791, though none of these was wrecked. Saldanha Bay acted as haven of refuge, but after 1742 False Bay was officially designated as such. Ships of the second contingent in particular were affected by this rule. It was difficult to leave False Bay because this still involved rounding the Cape. In 1767 very belated ships were given permission to pass the bays, but little use was made of this before long.1 3
The Cape acted as supply station but also as point of rendez-vous. In the eighteenth century sailing in convoy on return from Asia was no longer considered necessary, it only applied to the passage from the Cape to home. Anyhow, ships which had strayed from the main fleet or sailed independently could assemble here. Fleets from Ceylon, Bengal and China linked up here with those from Batavia. On each occasion instructions were sent from home to the Cape to indicate when the combined return journey was to be started. Therefore the length of stay at the Cape was determined not only by the loading of fresh provisions and the like, but more so by waiting for missing ships and for the date of departure to be announced in the instructions. There was no real need for a long break in the voyage after this relatively easy and brief passage. Table 17 shows that the length of stay for ships from Batavia was considerably longer in the eighteenth century than previously, it being more than five weeks on average. Ships from Ceylon, Bengal and China on the other hand stayed at the Cape for a much shorter time. The tea-ships in particular made up for their on average longer voyages by a shorter stay at the Cape.
13VanDam,Beschryvinge,vol.68,42-43andvol.83,524-528;Heeres,'De'Consideration", 568 and A R A , VOC 5036, missive Heren 17 to Governor and Council at the Cape of 11.1.1784 and instructions contained in this collection.
167 153

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