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Zeepaard was a yacht of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and made five voyages between Holland and Batavia in the East Indies during her career between 1656 and 1665. She wrecked on her last voyage off Ireland, on her way to Batavia. Zeepaard left Wielingen in Zeeland on 28 October and was at the beginning of a long journey to the Dutch East Indies when she was driven into Broadhaven Bay after enduring severe storms at sea, which left her in a bad condition. Once in the bay, the ship was smashed to pieces and she eventually sunk. About 74 men lost their lives when Zeepaard was lost.

At the time, the sinking of Zeepaard was written about in a newspaper called the Oxford Gazette, which stated "...The ship ran ashore in the county of Mayo, proves a ship of Middleborough,..., the Sea Horse, bound for the East Indies,...., she was much beaten at sea,....."(see references).

Drawing of a yacht from 1671.

Route Achterom

Because the Republic and England were at war (The Second Anglo-Dutch War 1665-1667) the northern route was taken to avoid the dangerous English Channel where English warships were patrolled. This route was called 'Achterom' (around back).


The Zeepaard was built in 1655 in Middelburg. It was owned by the Zeeland Chamber of the VOC. The difference between a pinas and a yacht is not always clear, although in VOC archives both names are used. What is clear is that they were both designed to be small and fast, and were used for both war and commerce. One famous yacht was Duyfken. In 1606, Duyfken was the first European ship to explore and chart a part of the Western Australian coast. Another Dutch yacht, Hoorn, was wrecked in Puerto Deseado, Argentina, in 1615.

The ship to the left is a yacht on departure from Batavia to China (Pieter van Doornik 1668).

People on board150
Tonnage400 ton (200 last)


The wreck of the Zeepaard was partly salvaged immediately after sinking due to its location in shallow waters. The present archaeological site is therefore incomplete as a result of these and later salvage attempts, but also due to the remains of another vessel, the Santiago of the Spanish Armada, that lies at the same location. No remains of the hull appear to survive at the site. Examples of artefacts found include bricks, coal, clay pipes, earthenware, and iron cannons. Most items recovered were heavily concreted or encrusted.

Example of a

Example of a 'Baardmankruik' similar to the one found belonging to the Zeepaard.

The wreck site of the Zeepaard is protected under the National Monuments Act and the site is officially registered in the shipwreck inventory of Ireland database as W06783.


Broadhaven Bay, the location of the Zeepaard wreck.


  • Oxford Gazette (London, England) December 21, 1665 – December 25, 1665; Issue 12.
  • Oxford Gazette (London, England) December 28, 1665 – January 1, 1666; Issue 14.

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