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On 16 January 1647, a fleet of three Dutch ships—the Nieuwe Haerlem, the Olifant and the Schiedam—left Batavia, which is now Jakarta, for the return voyage to The Netherlands. The ships were richly loaded with cargo from the East. En route, the ships encountered a storm and got separated from each other. Now alone, the Nieuwe Haerlem reached Table Bay, on 25 March 1647, where it became stranded on the shallow water.

Because the cargo was precious, mostly spices, textile, Chinese porcelain and indigo, the captain of the Nieuwe Haerlem ordered a junior merchant, Leendert Janszen, to remain behind with approximately 60 crewmen to look after the cargo until a larger fleet could give them and their cargo a lift back home.

Dutch East India Company fleet

A 17th century oil painting by an unknown artist depicting a fleet belonging to the Dutch East India Company returning from Batavia.


© Amusing Planet, 2020.



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