Sunday, January 31, 2016

Shipwreck survivors 11: the Bennebroek

To be shipwrecked off the Natal coast in the 19th c was unfortunate but one's chances of survival were reasonably good, given help from those ashore. In the 18th c, when most of the coast of southern Africa was uninhabited or sparsely so, there was usually no assistance in the vicinity and the survivors could not avoid a long walk to the nearest civilized place.

In 1713 the Dutch ship Bennebroek returning from Ceylon came to grief on the Natal coast, possibly near the mouth of the Umtana river, or somewhere north of the Umzimvubu. The ship broke up, many drowned, 57 Europeans and 20 Malabar slaves reaching land. They started to walk for the Cape but were stopped by a large river, perhaps the Umzimvubu, and turned back. 

Others continued the journey but of these only one slave actually reached the Cape. Seven who had remained behind were found by a small trading vessel but only four were taken to the Cape. They reported having been well treated by the local tribesmen. The three left behind may have been the three shipwrecked Englishmen found by Hubner's party in 1716 living in Pondoland with wives and children. If not from the Bennebroek their origins are a mystery.

The wreck was found in 1985 and some pieces of Chinese porcelain recovered as well as some bronze swivel cannon bearing the Amsterdam mark.

A dark unfriendly shore awaited the survivors of the Bennebroek

1 comment:

andrew van rensburg said...

Thank you Mole for this interesting post. The following link adds to the intrigue surrounding this shipwreck and what becomes of artifacts: