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stepping stones of maritime history


The Otter was a fast yacht, a warship deployed by the WIC to attack Spanish ships in the Caribbean. Holland had been at war with Spain for decades (from 1568-1648)

The Otter was one of the official privateers under sail of the West India Company (WIC). The WIC was not only a commercial company but also a war instrument against Spain.

One of the most successful privateers besides Piet Hein was Houtebeen Cornelius Jol. The Otter was his ship. Jol took dozens of Spanish ships as prize in the Caribbean. He made the crossing from Holland to the Caribbean nine times between 1627-1640.

He was a rising star in the WIC. In 1638 he became admiral of the WIC.

In 1635 he returned to Holland after a successful hunting season. Almost home in the English Chanel he was attacked by another famous privateer Captain Collaert of Duinkerken. The Otter was seized and towed to Duinkerken. The crew and Jol were imprisoned. After six months they were finally bought free by the States General.

The Otter probably sailed again as a privateer but from then on under the Spanish flag.

Privateering was legal with a a letter of marque. This was a government license that authorized a private person, known as a privateer or corsair, to attack and capture vessels of a nation at war with the issuer.


Type: WIC yacht

They were adapted as war ships, very fast with extra sail power.

Tonnage: 90 last

Complement: 68 (1628) 78 (1634)

Armament: 16 cast iron cannons (1628) 6 bronze, 14 iron (1634)

MasterJol, Cornelis Cornelisz.


  • Joanis de Laet,
    Historie ofte iaerlijck verhael van de verrichtinghen der geoctroyeerde West-Indische Compagnie, zedert haer begin, tot het eynde van 't jaer sesthien-hondert ses-en-dertich; begrepen in derthien boecken, ende met verscheyden koperen.
  • N. Noordervliet- Jol, (1994).
    De geschiedenis van de oudste geslachten van de familie Jol.
  • De geschiedenis van de oudste geslachten van de familie Jol.

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