Shipwreck and Survival in Oman, 1763

The Fate of the Amstelveen and Thirty Castaways on the South Coast of Arabia

Klaas Doornbos

Shipwreck and Survival in Oman, 1763

Klaas Doornbos

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

148 pages | 60 color plates | 6 1/4 x 9 1/2 | © 2014
Paper $24.95 ISBN: 9789089648389 Published February 2015 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
In 1763, the Dutch ship Amstelveen set sail from the Dutch East Indies for Muscat, Oman. Through a tragic combination of human error and rough seas, the ship never made it to port, sinking off the southern coast of Oman. The thirty surviving crew members then faced a terrible trek across a desolate desert landscape to Muscat. Drawing from the logbook of Cornelis Eyks, the ship’s only surviving officer, Klaas Doornbos tells the fascinating story of the men’s journey across the Gulf of Oman desert, their encounters with the country’s inhabitants, and their struggle to survive.

Quoting extensively from Eyks’s logbook, Doornbos describes how the sailors, barefoot and almost naked, walked hundreds of miles in the blazing sun in the hope of reaching civilization. Some of the men died on the way, while the fate of others is uncertain. It was not until 1766 that Eyks and the remaining men reached Muscat. Throughout, Doornbos uses Eyks’s logbook—the oldest remaining European account of the area—to reveal much about the desert coast of Oman and its people. Equal parts social history, anthropology, and survival chronicle, this gripping account of the Amstelveen’s crew is a thrilling piece of naval history.


The VOC at home and in Asia

A mysterious accident

The Dutch East Indiaman Amstelveen

In the Bay of Sawqirah

Two old letters

At Cape Mataraca (Ras Madrakah)

Forsaken in the desert

Along the Gulf of Masirah

Hunger, thirst, rocks and robbers

Trapped by the Bedouin

At a forked river (near Duqm)

Saved by some water

The fate of the little Javanese boy

A warmer welcome

Through the high sand dunes

Encounters on the Sharqiyah coast

A cunning merchant captain in Hadd

Arrival in Muscat

Unrest in the Arabian merchant fleet

With the Resident on Kharg

Salt from Bandar Abbasi

A surprising reunion in Muscat

To Batavia by way of Cochin

To Muscat once again

Back in Middelburg at last

Cornelis Eyks, a life at sea

Causes and location of the disaster

Those on board and their fate

Remaining mysteries

‘The salvaged people’



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