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The Lastdrager (in English: load carrier) was a merchant ship sailing for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). The ship was not built at the shipyards of the VOC but was purchased in 1648. She had made two voyages to the East before she was wrecked on the Cruss of Ness in the Bluemull Sound, Yell at the Shetland Islands of Scotland. Only 26 people survived the loss of the Lastdrager. The event was documented by one of the survivors, Johannes Camphuys. He was 19 years old at the time. He wrote a dramatic account of the stranding of the ship and his own survival. He finally reached the East and eventually became the Gouverneur-General, the highest function that could be reached within the VOC.

Portrait of Johannes Camphuys.


The Lastdrager was purchased for 20,300,- guilders by the Amsterdam Chamber of the VOC. It had a length of 140-145, a width of 27-28 and a draft of 14. The vessel had an armament of 24.

Painting of a Fluyt ship, ca. 1650.

Bluemull sound, Shetland Isles

Bluemull Sound, Shetland Isles.

People on board120
Tonnage640 ton (320 last)


Several salvage operations were attempted in the years following the loss. However, these were largely unsuccessful and close to nothing of the cargo was recovered.

The ship was (re)discovered in 1970 and was partly excavated by Robert Stenuit in the years 1971-'72 to illuminate the 17th-century development of the VOC. There were approximately 2746 complete and fragmentary artefacts such as navigational tools, surgical instruments and everyday artefacts such as spoons, jewellery items and clay pipes. Some remarkable finds were golf clubs and small arms. The majority of the items recovered from the wreck were individually sold at an auction at Sotheby's. This auction took place on 8 November 1973.

The site of the Lastdrager is protected under the Protection of Wrecks act of 1978.

Sotheby's Auction overview: including Lastdrager

Sotheby's Auction overview: including Lastdrager.

Golfclubs from wreck the Lastdrager

Golf clubs from the wreck the Lastdrager.


  • Stenuit, Robert (1974).
    Early relics of the VOC trade from Shetland.
    The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology and Underwater Exploration.
  • NA 1.04.02 (VOC) 234 Res K Amst 25-5-1648.

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