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Coastline drawing of Mauritius


Coastline drawing of Mauritius

The Moluccan fleet of the Fifth Expedition approached the south of Africa by mid-August 1601. On 12th August the expedition’s leadership resolved to sail to Mauritius. This resolve was renewed on 1 September. Much of the crew was suffering from scurvy, making it essential to obtain new supplies of fruits and vegetables. The ships of the Second Expedition had been the first Dutch ships that anchored at Mauritius and had found it to be a very good place to obtain fresh foods and drinking water. The fleet struggled to navigate to Mauritius, however, and ended up far to the east of the island. After setting a western course when the expedition’s leaders realized this, the ships first encountered the island of Rodrigues by 19 September, which they named Carnival Island. Here they obtained some fresh supplies of food, but failed to find fresh drinking water. The leadership therefore resolved to continue to search for Mauritius. At 27 September they arrived at Mauritius and anchored at the southeast of the island. Joris Joostensz. Laerle, junior navigator on board of the Zeeland and later artist on board of the Gelderland is possibly the author of this drawing of the bay in which the Dutch ships stayed. The map shows the Dutch ships at the Mauritian coast. The text on the left side says that the drawing concerns the “Insule do dirne” which was now called Mauritius of Nassau. The text on the right says that this drawing shows the west side of Mauritius as seen when the ships were at the bay that they stayed at from 30 September to 20 October 1601. According to the text, the island is located at 20 degrees southern latitude and 107 degrees longitude. The legend is the following: A. The freshwater river. B. The place where the sick lay. C. The achorhead at which the ships lay. D. The place where the crew went to get dodo’s, here called ‘carnival geese’ and ’dronten’. E. is a ‘vicious’ or ‘poisonous’ mountain. F. The place where the crew usually fished. G. The place where the ships first lay anchored.

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Sources and literature

Morree, Perry, Dodo's en galjoenen: De reis van het schip Gelderland naar Oost-Indië, 1601-1603