Vergulde Draeck

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Vergulde Draeck
Career (Dutch Republic) Flag of the Dutch East India Company.svg
Name: Vergulde Draeck
Owner: Dutch East India Company
Ordered: 1652
Laid down: 1652
Launched: 1653
Acquired: 1653
Commissioned: 1652
In service: 1653 - 1656
Fate: Wrecked, 28 April 1656
General characteristics
Displacement: 260 tonnes
Length: 137.3 ft (41.8 m)
Beam: 32 ft (9.8 m)
Draft: 13.5 ft (4.1 m)

The Vergulde Draeck (Dutch pronunciation: [vɛrˈɣʏldə draːk]; Gilt Dragon) was a Dutch East India Company ship of the seventeenth century. She sailed from Texel bound for Batavia (now Jakarta), under Pieter Albertsz and was carrying trade goods and eight chests of silver worth 786,000 guilders. On 28 April 1656 the Gilt Dragon was wrecked just south of Ledge Point, 107 km north of what is now Perth, Western Australia.

Fate of the crew[edit]

Unlike its predecessor[citation needed], the Batavia which was wrecked in 1629, the Jacht (as its type of fast ship was known) immediately began to break up.

Only 75 survivors (of 193 originally on board) made it to shore. They then quickly dispatched a small boat with the Understeersman and six others to Batavia to seek help. They arrived 40 days after the wrecking and reported that as they sailed away they saw the other survivors trying to refloat a larger boat that had capsized in the surf while landing.

Two vessels were immediately sent south in search, but they failed in difficult conditions to sight either the wreckage or the survivors. Eleven men and a boat were also lost during the search.

In January 1658 two other ships were sent out in search but also proved unsuccessful. A boat from one of these vessels commanded by Abraham Leeman also disappeared, but it successfully returned to Batavia, arriving nearly six months after having been given up as lost.

20th century[edit]

Remains of the Vergulde Draeck as surveyed in 1966

The wreck, the first of the Dutch and English East India ships found on the Western Australian coast, was discovered by five spear-fishermen (John Cowen; Jim, Alan and Graeme Henderson; and Alan Robinson ) on April 13, 1963.[1] After a period in which both it and the Batavia (which was found later in the same year) were heavily looted, shipwreck legislation was enacted, vesting the sites in the Western Australian Museum. Subsequently the remains were excavated by maritime archaeologist Jeremy Green and a report was published.[2] Materials from the wreck are on exhibition at the Museum's Shipwreck Galleries in Fremantle.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nonja Peters, The Dutch Down Under: 1606-2006 (University of Western Australia Publishing, 2006) p66
  2. ^ Green, J. N., 1977, The A.V.O.C. Jacht Vergulde Draeck wrecked Western Australia 1656. (British Archaeological Reports, Supplementary Series 36) Oxford: BAR.

Further reading[edit]

  • Major, R. H. (editor) (1859) Early Voyages to Terra Australis, Now Called Australia. London: Hakluyt Society (2001 facsimile edition on Google Books)
  • Henderson, James A. (1982). Marooned: the wreck of the Vergulde Draeck and the Abandonment and Escape from the Southland of Abraham Leeman in 1658. Perth, WA: St. George Books. ISBN 0-86778-018-5. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 31°13.36′S 115°21.48′E / 31.22267°S 115.35800°E / -31.22267; 115.35800