Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tracking details of a ship arrival

By patiently going through, column by column, a relevant time-frame for the arrival of a ship in South Africa it is sometimes possible to put together a detailed account of her history from the moment of her embarkation until reaching her destination.

In the case of the Jan van Brakel, a Dutch emigrant ship, we find a report in the Natal Mercury of 23 June 1859 of her arrival at Simon's Bay (Simonstown in the Cape) on her way to Natal:

Then there is a reference on 14 July to her 'standing off the port' (Durban) and in some danger as a result - she had lost both her anchors:

There follows a mention, on 21 July 1859, of her lying at the outer anchorage off Port Natal. A long wait aboard after a lengthy voyage from Holland for her cargo of immigrants (given variously as 75 or over fifty).

Reading each separate report as well as the shipping column once she had officially arrived at Durban we find she had left Amsterdam on 15 March, so her voyage lasted four months.

Finally we find an advertisement published prior to her departure, homeward-bound:

The press had a few tries at the Captain's name but appear to have finally settled on De Roever.

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