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stepping stones of maritime history


After a long journey from Enkhuizen, the Gouden Buis arrived in the deserted St. Helena Bay in South Africa on 19 October 1693. During her journey, the wind had calmed for two months while the ship was near the equator, which decimated the crew due to the heat and disease. By the time that the Gouden Buis had arrived at St. Helena Bay, only 12 men were still fit to work, with the rest of the crew either sick or dead from scurvy. Captain Baanman, who was bed ridden, knew they could not reach Cape town in this condition and ordered seven men, who were still strong enough, to go ashore and seek help.

These 7 men were Laurens Thysz, Jacob Lepie, Jan Christiaansz, Daniel Sillerman, Flip Warlo, Jan Harder and the commander of the soldiers. Given very little provisions they set off. With sickness and exhaustion in the wilderness, five of them died during their mission. Laurens Thyz survived. Laurens was fortunate enough to meet KhoiKhoi people who took him to Saldanha. Soon after, a message was delivered at the Cape Castle that there was a ship in need of assistance.

Governor Simon van der Stel ordered a large salvage operation. Four ships sailed to the St. Helena Bay. On arrival, Daniël Silleman, the other survivor of the seven men, was rescued from the beach. In the meantime, the Gouden Buis had dragged her anchor and drifted ashore and could not be saved. She lay in ten feet of water and only one man remained alive on the vessel, but he died soon after being rescued.

The salvage ship, the Dageraad, departed with the seventeen treasure chests, worth approximately 200 000 guilders, and Silleman to the Cape. However, the Dageraad soon got into a violent storm herself, and was shipwrecked at Robben Eiland.

Silleman survived this second tragedy by swimming to shore. Back at the Cape Castle he met Laurens Thysz. They were the only two survivors with over 200 men dead and two ships on the sea floor.

Back in Holland, Silleman told his story to a publisher in Enkhuizen. The journey of the De Gouden Buys and the story of Daniël Silleman were already published in 1695 and became a popular storybook at that time. Only a few copies of the book still remain.

Commemorative medal for the survivor Lourens Thijszoon Vijselaar (source Rijksmuseum A'dam NG-VG-1-4373).

MasterTheunis Kornelisz Baanman
People on board190
Length130 feet (39.6 m)


In 2005, Jonathan Sharfman, with the help of two students of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, conducted an archaeological survey along the coast of St. Helena Bay. They used a magnetometer but were, ultimately, unsuccessful. Supposedly, the wreck of the Gouden Buis is located near a campsite, just North of the Velddrif river, according to an interviewed salver. However, more research is necessary to locate this wreck. Further studies with more modern technology may be worthwhile, as well as talking to the locals, who may have information about the wreck.

Since the wreck was abandoned while lying at its anchors on the shore of St. Helena Bay, it cannot be ruled out that the wreck was demolished for scrap by locals (Khoikhoi, or others).


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