He is thought to first have sailed to the East Indies for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1606. In 1610 he left again to the Indies, now as commander of three ships. On this trip he devised the Brouwer Route, a route from South Africa to Java that reduced voyage duration from a year to about 6 months by taking advantage of the strong westerly winds in the Roaring Forties (the latitudes between 40° and 50° south). Up to that point, the Dutch had followed a route copied from the Portuguese via the coast of Africa, Mauritius and Ceylon. By 1617, the VOC required all their ships to take the Brouwer route.
After his arrival in 1611 in the East Indies, he was sent to Japan to replace Jacques Specx temporarily as opperhoofd at Dejima from August 28, 1612 to August 6, 1614. During that time he made a visit to the Japanese court at Edo. In 1613 he made a trip to Siam that laid the foundation for the Dutch trade with Siam.
Early in 1632, he was part of a delegation sent to London to solve trade disagreements between the English and Dutch East India companies. Afterwards he left for the Indies, and on April 18 of that same year he was appointed Governor-General of the East Indies, again following Jacques Specx, a position which he held until January 1, 1636. Anthony van Diemen was his assistant during this entire period, and many of the Dutch explorations into the Pacific carried out under Van Diemen's command were suggested in writing by Brouwer before he left.
In 1642, the VOC joined the Dutch West Indies Company in organizing an expedition to Chile to establish a base for trading gold at the abandoned ruins of Valdivia. The fleet sailed from Dutch Brazil where John Maurice of Nassau provided them with supplies. While rounding Cape Horn, the expedition established that Staten Island was not part of the unknown Southern land. After landing on Chiloe Island, Brouwer made a pact with the Mapuche (then known as the Araucanians) to aid in establishing a resettlement at Valdivia. However, on August 7, 1643 Hendrik died (at the age of 62) before arriving, and was succeeded by his vice-admiral Elias Herckman, who landed at the ruins of Valdivia on August 24. Brouwer was buried in the new settlement, which Herckman named Brouwershaven after him. Herckman and his men occupied the location only until October 28, 1643. Having been told that the Dutch had plans to return to the location, the Spanish viceroy in Peru sent 1000 men in twenty ships (and 2000 men by land, who never made it) in 1644 to resettle Valdivia and fortify it. The Spanish soldiers in the new garrison disinterred and burned Brouwer's body.
See also 
- The Seynbrief, Sailing Toward Destiny, national library of australia.
- Trading-post Chiefs, Medical and other Staff of the Dutch Factories Hirado and Dejima
- Robbert Kock The Dutch in Chili at coloniavoyage.com
- Kris E. Lane Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas, 1500-1750, 1998, pages 88-92
|Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
Anthony van Diemen