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stepping stones of maritime history


Western Route

Olivier van Noort was the leader of an expedition - also called the Magelhaense Compagnie (Magallan Company) from Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The goal of the expedition was to find an alternative route to Asia that would go westwards. The objective was trade and the taking of Spanish ships. Because of adversity and frustration, the peaceful goal was released more and more. Spanish enemy ships and settlements became the target of attacks.

The fleet consisted of four ships: two large ships of 150 last (the Mauritius from Rotterdam and the Hendrik Frederik from Amsterdam) and two yachts of 50 last (the Eendracht from Rotterdam and the Hoop from Amsterdam).

The official departure was 2 July 1598 but due to adversities they actually left on September 13th.


Things did not go smoothly. After a delay on the African coast they finally crossed over to Brazil on January 8, 1599. They could not find places to drop anchor and get food and water anywhere there. The Portuguese and native resistance was too fierce. Out of necessity they decided to leave the Brazilian coast and to head for the island of Saint, Helena to take in refreshments and spend the winter there (around March 20). Almost everyone was ill and every day men died of scurvy. The sailed towards Africa but could not find Saint Helena.

Finally, around May 21st, they came to two small islands, Martin Vaz and Trinidade. As far as refreshments went, these only yielded seagulls, which turned out to be very tame. They left, looking for the island of Ascencion, of which they knew it had to be somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. I stead of this, the squadron ended up at the Brazilian coast for the second time, this time at the height of Rio Dolce. Because of Portuguese resistance, they also could not land here. The went out to sea again and found a small island off the coast a bit south, Santa Clara, where they anchored on 2 June.

The first Eendracht leaking and left behind

There the Eendracht (captain Pieter Esaias de Lint) which was badly leaking, had to be left behind because it was no longer seaworthy. Goods and crew were divided on the other ships and the Eendracht was set on fire. On June 19th they continued their journey south.

Rijksmuseum RP-P-OB-80.289


The ships at the Island of Santa Clara, 1599, anonymous, 1646 (printed in the travel journal of OIivier van Noort, Rijksmuseum). The burning of the first Eendracht is depicted.

After many hardships, Van Noort managed to reach the Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Magell together with de Hoop (which had meanwhile been renamed Eendracht 2, click here for the sequel). They had lost the Hendrik Frederik in the meantime. She would arrive at the Moluccas on its own in February 1601.

The Mauritius would eventually reach Rotterdam on 26-8-1601. This made it ship the first Dutch ship to complete circumnavigation.

Wikimedia Commons

Title page of the published journal of Olivier van Noort.


MasterLint, Pieter Esaias de
People on board28
Tonnage100 ton (50 last)


The ship was burned by the crew at the island of Santa Clara, Brazil. It has not been found yet. The location of the island named Santa Clara is not sure, but circumstantial evidence points to the Ilha dos Franceses. There is a map in van Noort's published journal putting Santa Clara at roughly the same position.

Kaart met de kusten van Peru en Brazilië, 1600, 1646, Rijksmuseum, RP-P-OB-80.29. Kaart met de kusten van Peru en Brazilië, 1600. In het midden twee cartouches met titel en schalen. Onderdeel van de illustraties in het verslag van de reis om de wereld door Olivier van Noort in 1598-1601. No. 12.


The map from Van Noort's journal depicting the island (Rijksmuseum RP-P-OB-80.294).


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