Map of parts of the Tonga archilelago and the Fiji archipelago
The expedition of Abel Tasman spent almost two weeks in the Tonga archipelago. On February 1st, having restocked their supplies of fresh foods and water, the Zeehaen and Heemskerck departed Nomuka and sailed north for several days, before turning west to commence the expedition’s return to the Indies archipelago. These waters were had been explored before by Willem Schouten en Jacob le Maire and were thus known to Tasman. After several days of sailing west, they encountered several smaller islands and dangerous reefs on February 5th and February 6th. The ships managed to navigate these perilous waters in what we now know as of the Fiji group. Tasman had sailed near the islands of Taveuni and Vanua Levi. Tasman, however, did not recognize that he was near a larger island, thinking instead to have observed a number of small islands which he named the Prince William Islands.
Isaac Gilsemans, supercargo on board the Zeehaen, drew this map of the islands of Amsterdam (Tongatapu), Middelburg (‘Ata), Rotterdam (Nomuka), the Prince William Islands (in fact parts of the island of Vanua Levi) and an area he called the Heemskerck Droughts.Please contact Nationaal Archief for reuse and copyrights.