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SOUTH AFRICA TABLET 10: The journey to Table Bay begins

by TimeTraveler

On Sunday the 24th of December 1651 an easterly breeze sprang up, and about noon the Dromedaris, Reiger, and Goede Hoop, in company with a great fleet of merchant ships, hove up their anchors and stood out to sea.

The Dromedaris was now found to be so topheavy from bad stowage and want of ballast that in squally weather it was dangerous to show much canvas, and it was even feared at times that she would overturn.

In concesquence of this, the commander signalled to the other vessels, and on the 30th their skippers went on board and a council was held. There were present Jan van Riebeek, senior merchant, David Coninck, skipper of the Dromedaris, Jan Hoochsaet, skipper of the Reiger, and Simon Pieter Turver, skipper of the Goede Hoop. Pieter van der Helm was the secretary.

The council resolved to put into a port on the English coast and procure some ballast, but the skippers had hardly returned to their own vessels when the wind set in dead off the English shore, and they were obliged to face the bay of Biscay as they were.

Fortunately they had fair weather, and as soon as they got beyond the ordinary cruising ground of the privateers, the Dromedaris sent nine of her heavy guns below, which put her in better trim. The fear of Prince Rupert alone prevented them from reducing her available armament still further. They believed he would not make much distinction between a Dutch ship and an English one, and for aught they knew, he might have a Portuguese commission.

Very likely he was somewhere between them and St. Helena or Table Bay, on the watch for Indiamen, and therefore it was necessary to be constantly on guard and ready for defence.

Reference: History and Ethnography of Africa South of the Zambesi by George McCall Theal.


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