direct to content


stepping stones of maritime history


The Westerwijk left Batavia (Indonesia) on 6-2-1737 in homeward bound fleet consisting of six ships: the Buis, Duinbeek, Goudriaan, Rodenrijs, Westerwijk and Papenburg. Previously, the Iepenrode, Flora and Paddenburg had already left in January.

Table Bay
The Westerwijk arrived at the roadstead of Tafel Bay on May 11, 1737. There were 8 DEIC ships: Paddenburg (27-4), Flora (29-4), Goudriaan (6-5), Westerwijk (7-5), Rodenrijs (7-5), Papenburg (10-5), Buis (11-5) Duinbeek (16-5) and finally the Iepenrode (20-5). On May 20, all return ships were ready for the journey to the Netherlands.

Disaster May 21, 1737
At 8 o'clock the next morning the masters of the return fleet were at the Castle on land to get the last instructions from the Governor of the Cape.

When the wind became stronger and stronger, the skippers of the ships could no longer return. Emergency shots sounded around 11:00 in the morning. The first ship to lose its anchor and become stranded and shattered by the sea was the Iepenrode. Subsequently, a similar fate befell all ships in the roadstead during the course of the day:

The Westerwijk was driven ashore in a westerly gale at 14:30 on the 21st of May. Luckily, she landed high on the beach without breaking up, and most of the crew members were saved.

Of the vessels that ran aground on that day, the Westerwijk was the only ship not completely torn apart by the waves and wind after it parted from its anchors. The Westerwijk stayed relatively intact only because the crew had managed to cut down two of its masts when it beached.


The map from 1731 shows the stranded ships around the Soute River. The numbers 1-9 are the (time) order of the wreckage.
1: Iepenrode 2: Goudriaan 3: Flora 4: Paddenburg 5: Westerwijk 6: De Buis 7: Duinbeek 8: Rodenrijs 9: Brigantijn Victoria 10: De Papenburg remained unscathed.
A: Good Hope Castle with the 't Hoofd jetty.

The only ship that remained unscathed and ready to sail was the Papenberg.

A total of nine ships sank that day, causing a total of 208 lives to be lost 531 men survived the disaster. Ultimately, the VOC lost 1,921,532 guilders due to a single storm. (Daily register 29-6-1738)


MasterBos, Wouter
People on board120
Length145 feet (44.2 m)
Tonnage850 ton (425 last)


Down on 21 May

New in MaSS

Wrecks of Flevoland

Burgzand Noord

13 Provinces