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Eastindiaman Amsterdam

Eastindiaman Amsterdam

 

VOC ships like the Amsterdam sailed to the Far East. The outward journey took around eight months, the return voyage one month less. From 1602 to 1795, 1461 East Indiamen made 4800 voyages. Less than 4 per cent (192) were lost at sea.

The original Amsterdam sailed up the North Sea in 1749. In a raging storm the rudder snapped. The master decided to beach the brand-new ship on the south coast of England. Thus he hoped to save the people on board, the cargo and the vessel.

But the East Indiaman soon sank into the mud, never to be freed again. The wreck has provided archaeologists with valuable information about the construction of VOC ships, their cargoes and life on board.

The Amsterdam, a VOC ship from 1990

In 1985, almost 200 years after the demise of the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, the keel was laid for a new East Indiaman. The original example was largely copied during construction. But modern standards also created differences: the hull and decks are made of tropical wood instead of oak, there is standing room between the decks, the spars are glued and stairs replace ladders. More than 400 volunteers worked on this new Amsterdam, which has been berthed at the Maritime Museum since 1991.

On the outward voyage, half the hold was filled with food and drink for around 240 men for eight months. On the return journey, the hold was filled with cargo and victuals for only around 70 men.

Cargo on the outward journey

On their way to Asia, the East Indiamen carried bricks and guns for the various VOC settlements and strongholds. And, of course, food, drink and clothes for the sailors and VOC soldiers on board. Plus pots and pans and tools. Silver and gold coins and bullion were brought along for the purchase of Asian goods.

Return cargo

Products from all over Asia filled the hold. Tin, pepper and other spices, fabrics, tea and china were stowed in such a way that they could withstand the voyage to the Netherlands without breakage or rot.

Bread room

The bread room was iron-plated to keep the supply of hardtack and cheese safe from vermin.

read more on the maritime musuem