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stepping stones of maritime history

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The Fortuyn under the command of skipper Pieter Westrik departed from Texel on its maiden voyage on 27 September 1723. It carried 200,000 guilders in valuables, consisting of silver bars and silver coins. The Fortuyn sailed in company with two other East Indiamen Hogenes and Graveland, bound for Batavia (now Jakarta) via the Cape of Good Hope.

After a fast passage of 97 days the Fortuyn anchored in Table Bay on 2 January 1724, reporting just one man dead and three sick. After a compulsory period of rest at the Cape of Good Hope, the VOC ships were required to follow a prescribed route (sailing instructions or sailing orders) for the journey from the Cape to the Sunda Strait. The Fortuyn took in some extra rations and left the Cape for Batavia on 18 January but was wrecked en route.

Historical research

Research undertaken by Australian and Dutch archaeologists over the past several years started with British and French and documents, indicating that a Dutch ship anchored at Christmas Island and ran ashore at night.

Recent research in Dutch archives by the Dutch maritime historian Pablo Boorsma revealed that in April 1724 the skipper of the outgoing Dutch ship Graveland found floating wreckage from the missing Fortuyn in the latitude of the Cocos and the longitude of Christmas Island.

A rare VOC chart of the Indian Ocean

The VOC A chart of the Indian ocean by Abraham Anias from the VOC Zeeland Chamber Abraham Anias (1694-1750), official examiner of the steersmen and chart-maker of the Zeeland Chamber of the VOC An important vellum manuscript chart of the Dutch East India Company. The plane chart of the Indian Ocean did not only serve for the crossing to Sunda Strait, but also for the journey to Ceylon. After approximately 700 miles east of the Cape, the course is changed north, as is testified on our chart by faint traces of a plotted track in pencil (of which unfortunately only the number 14 is decipherable, tracks were drawn in pencil and erased later).

Fortuyn, de

VOC vellum chart by Abraham Anias.


type: Dutch East Indiaman.

Built for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) chamber Amsterdam in 1722.

Left Texel on her first voyage 27-9-1723. Wrecked in 1724

Length: 145 foot (44 m.)
Complement: 225
Armament: 36 canons and 8 swivel guns
Tonnage: 400 last 800 tons
Master: Pieter Westrik

Noord Nieuwland at the cape (ca. 1760)


In 2015 and 2016 a team of Australian shipwreck archaeologists and a student from Indonesia and the Netherlands did research at the suggested locations found in the archives. of Christmas Island and the Cocos Keeling Islands.

Team members Graeme Henderson from Perth, Andrew Viduka from Canberra, Alex Moss from Adelaide, James Parkinson from Melbourne, student Shinatria Adhityatama from Indonesia and student Robert de Hoop from the Netherlands conducted magnetometer surveys along targeted coastlines seeking iron objects such as cannon and anchors from the outgoing Dutch ships Fortuyn and Aagtekerke, and several missing homeward bound vessels.


Burgzand Noord

Sunken Treasures


Dutch Presence in Cuban Waters

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