Hiding in plain sight

posted in: History | 0

At last, the mystery of the Aagtekerke  which disappeared after sailing from Table Bay in 1726, may have been solved. It has long been believed that the Aagtekerke, like the Batavia and the Zeewijk, met its end on the reefs of the Abrolhos islands, sixty kilometres or so off the west coast of Australia. Ironically, it was hiding in plain sight, as they say. This article explains.

It’s now thought that the Aagtekerke may well have met its end in the same place as the Zeewijk, near Pelsart Island in the Pelsart group of the archipelago. In another piece of irony, the Zeewijk survivors reported seeing wreckage and assumed (incorrectly) that this was the place where the Batavia was sunk – hence the name. Pelsart was the senior merchant in command of the Batavia and its fleet. The Zeewijk was wrecked in 1727.

To me, it seems odd that it has taken so long. The dead giveaway had to be the discovery of elephants tusks at the site. The Zeewijk didn’t carry ivory, but the Aagtekerke did.

I’ll be most interested to hear what transpires.

UPDATE: It seems the VOC captains quite often took bits of extra cargo, undeclared to the VOC, on their voyages to make a bit of money on the side. Having come from Africa, ivory was an obvious extra. So the existence of the ivory might not be as telling as it appears.