Sunday 24 July 2011

The VOC jacht Duyfken

Finally I present the third in the series of 'ship studies', the Dutch jacht (reconnaissance/privateering vessel) Duyfken - on in English, the Little Dove. Built in 1595, the small vessel was used extensively by the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) in the East Indies until her abandonment in 1608. In 1606, she was the first European vessel to reach the shores of Australia.

The full scale replica was built at Freemantle WA in 1999.

Displacement - 110 tons burthen
Length - 19.9m
Beam - 6.0m
Draft - 2.4m
Speed - 7 knots
Armament - 8 small cannons

The Duyfken at sea:

The Duyfken docked at Coffs Harbour in 2006:

The following timeline was opportunistically appropriated from, I can claim no credit or responsibility for any of the content.

CE 1595
Duyfken is built about 1595 in the Netherlands. A fast, lightly-armed ship probably intended for small valuable cargoes or privateering.

CE 1601

Selected as the jacht, or scout, for the "Moluccan Fleet" sailing to the Spice Islands.Duyfken's captain for this voyage, Willem Cornelisz Schouten, with Le Maire, would later discover and name Cape Horn after the city of Hoorn.
On Christmas day the five ships of the Moluccan Fleet reach Bantam (Banten), Java and encounter a blockading fleet of Portuguese ships totalling eight galleons and twenty-two galleys. They engage this fleet in intermittent battle until driving them away on New Years day. This is a turning point in history: the undisputed dominance of the Iberians (Portuguese and Spanish) in the Spice Trade to Europe is over.

CE 1602

Warm welcome in Bantam
Warm welcome in Bantam, repair to battle damage. Survey of Jakarta Bay, where the Dutch would later build Batavia their capital in the Indies, then sailing by way of Tuban, East Java to the Spice Island of Ternate. Loaded cloves at Ternate then to Banda for a cargo of nutmeg. Sent on a voyage of exploration to the east.

The newly-formed United Dutch East India Company (VOC) is granted a monopoly on trade to the Spice Islands by the Dutch government. On the voyage home from the Indies Duyfken is separated from the larger ships in a storm off Cape Agulhas, southern Africa. Duyfken reaches the Netherlands two months ahead of the larger ships early in 1603

CE 1603

In December Duyfken sets out on a second voyage to the Indies in the VOC fleet of Steven van der Haghen and with Willem Janszoon as skipper.

CE 1604

The VOC fleet captures two Portuguese ships in Mozambique Channel and sails to the Spice Islands via India finally reaching Banten, Java on New Years Eve.

CE 1605

Duyfken is in the fleet that recaptures the fort of Van Verre at Ambon in the Spice Islands from the Portuguese. Later in the year she is selected for another voyage of discovery to the south and east, but first she is sent to Bantam Java for urgently needed provisions.

CE 1606

Early in 1606 Willem Janszoon and Jan Roosengijn take Duyfken southeast from Banda to the Kei Islands, then along the south coast of New Guinea, skirting south of the shallow waters around False Cape and then continuing east-southeast until they reach and chart the shores of Australia's Cape York Peninsula.

CE 1607

Duyfken may have made a second voyage east to Australia. Later in the year she is sent to Java to get supplies for the beleaguered Dutch fortress on Ternate.

CE 1608

Engaged in a five hour battle with three Spanish galleys. In June Duyfken is sent with larger ships to capture the fortress of Taffaso on Makian Island. A month later she is brought inside the reef at Ternate for repairs. It seems that she was hauled on her side to repair the bottom but this caused further damage and she was judged unrepairable.

Handy links:
ABC report on the replica
Building the modern replica
VOC historical society

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