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The Reijgersdaal was an East Indiaman sailing for the VOC as a merchant vessel between the Netherlands and the East Indies. She left in May of 1947 from Texel under the command of Johannes Band. On board were 297 people, of whom most would die during the voyage to the East. During their voyage, about 125 men died of scurvy before even reaching the Cape. When they finally did they could not anchor due to the weather and the ship had to wait in the bay for the night.

When they raised the anchor the next day the cable broke. About 15 men climbed into a boat in an attempt to take a line ashore. But less than an hour later, when they had reached the shore, they saw that the Reijgersdaal had been smashed to pieces. 157 men died in the wreck. She sank on 25 October 1747 between Robben Island and Dassen Island. A few days after the loss of the Reijgersdaal they found one chest of silver on the shore.

Dutch East Indiaman in South Africa.


The Reijgersdaal was a Dutch East Indiaman (spiegelretourschip) built in 1738 in Amsterdam for the Amsterdam Chamber of the VOC.

Painting of a Dutch East Indiaman.

MasterJohannes Band
People on board297
Length145 feet (44.2 m)
Tonnage850 ton (425 last)


The wreck was discovered by a South African Salvage team led by Brian Clark and Tubby Gericke in 1979. They managed to salvage six large bronze cannons adorned with beautiful carvings and the crest of the Amsterdam Chamber of the VOC. Lead ingots were also salvaged from the wreck site.

Other salvors attempted to recover valuable items from the wreck with success. Jimmy Rawe and Arthur Ridge recovered about 7000 coins from the site, most of them Mexican pillar dollars. Knowing that there was a treasure to find at the site attracted many rival teams of divers trying to make a profit.

Obviously, this feverish searching for treasure had a destructive effect on the site of the wreck. Explosives were used against concretion and the context of the artefacts was completely destroyed by the treasure seekers. No professional archaeological research has been done on the Reijgersdaal.

Example of coins found on board of the Reijgersdaal

Example of coins found on board of the Reijgersdaal.

The wreck site of the Reijgersdaal is protected in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act, No. 25 of 1999. This act regards historic shipwrecks as well. They may not be disturbed without the permission of the South African Resources Agency (SAHRA) and artefacts removed from the wreck may not be traded without SAHRA's permission.

SAHRA logo.


  • Gegevens VOC-schip Reijgersdaal.
    De VOCsite.
  • NA-, [s.a]. Lijst van alle zoodanige Schepen in soorten als bij de Generale Oostindische Compagnie zijn gemaekt oft gekocht als gehuurt alsmede waer oft de zelfde zijn agter gebleven ofte verongelukt als genoomen en verbrand, vermist of.
  • RGP-GS166, 1979. Dutch-Asiatic Shipping in the 17th and 18th centuries, Volume II, Outward-bound voyages from the Netherlands to Asia and the Cape (1595-1794). - Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1979. - 765 p., [en] - ISBN 90-247-2270-5.
  • RGP-GS167, 1979. Dutch-Asiatic Shipping in the 17th and 18th centuries, Volume III, Homeward-bound voyages from Asia and the Cape to the Netherlands (1597-1795). - Den Haag: Martinus Nijhoff, 1979. - 626 p., [en] - ISBN 90-247-228.
  • RGP-GS250, 2004. Generale Missiven van Gouverneurs-Generaal en Raden aan Heeren XVII der Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie : Deel X: 1737-1743. - Den Haag: Instituut voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis, 2004. - 1159 p., [nl] - ISBN 90-5216-133-x.
  • Velde, Paul van der, 1993. The Deshima dagregisters : their original tables of contents : Vol. VII 1740-1760 . - Leiden: Center for the History of European Expansion, 1993. - 450 p., [en].

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