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stepping stones of maritime history


The Schonenberg was on a homeward-bound journey from Batavia with a general cargo, including porcelain and peppercorns, when she ran aground on the reef off Northumberland Point. The captain was later suspected of deliberately running his vessel aground as part of a conspiracy with some local farmers to steal the cargo. The valuable cargo was carted away by co-conspirators and was never seen again. During the incident, there were no lives lost and all 100 people on board managed to make it safely ashore.

After the cargo had been salvaged by Van Soest, he burned the vessel down to the waterline.

He was later found guilty and executed after being tortured on the wheel. The treasure he and his accomplices kept was allegedly buried at Vergelegen, but it has never been found.

It is likely that the VOC chambers of Amsterdam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen all had cargo aboard the Schonenberg. This also explains the mixture of guns found on the possible wreck site.


MasterAlbert van Soest
People on board100
Tonnage800 ton (400 last)


Some of the remains from the Schonenberg, which include ceramics and cannons, are kept at the Shipwreck Museum in Bredasdorp. The site was worked on by J Herbert, who wrote a book on the Schonenberg.


  • Bruijn et al. (eds).
    DAS 6541.2.
  • SAHRA Database.
  • Lesa la Grange, Martijn Manders, Briege Williams, John Gribble and Leon Derksen (2024).
    Dutch Shipwrecks in South African Waters: A Brief History of Sites, Stores and Archives [Unpublished].
  • Scheepsmodel van Oost-Indisch Compagnieschip.

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