Sail-World.com : Book of the Week: Batavia, gripping, horrifying, the best read!
Book of the Week: Batavia, gripping, horrifying, the best read!
The story of the Batavia must be one of the most fascinating, if horrifying, sailing shipwreck stories of all time.
It combines a tale of derring-do, of sea-faring adventure, mutiny, love, lust, blood-lust, petty fascist dictatorship, criminality, a reign of terror, murders most foul, sexual slavery, natural nobility, survival, retribution, rescue, first contact with native peoples with the unlikely tale of the birth of the world's first corporation, the brutality of colonisation, the battle of good versus evil, the and so much more.
The story is set in 1629, when the pride of the Dutch East India Company, the Batavia, is on its maiden voyage en route from Amsterdam to the Dutch East Indies, laden down with the greatest treasure to leave Holland.
The magnificent ship is already boiling over with a mutinous plot that is just about to break into the open when, just off the coast of Western Australia, it strikes an unseen reef in the middle of the night.
While Commandeur Francisco Pelsaert decides to take the long-boat across 2000 miles of open sea for help, his second-in-command Jeronimus Cornelisz takes over, quickly deciding that 250 people on a small island is unwieldy for the small number of supplies they have.
Quietly, he puts forward a plan to 40-odd mutineers how they could save themselves, kill most of the rest and spare only a half-dozen or so women, including his personal fancy, Lucretia Jansz - one of the noted beauties of Holland - to service their sexual needs.
A reign of terror begins, countered only by a previously anonymous soldier Wiebbe Hayes, who begins to gather to him those are prepared to do what it takes to survive...hoping against hope that the Commandeur will soon be coming back to them with the rescue yacht.
It all happened, long ago, and it is for a very good reason that Peter FitzSimons has long maintained that this is 'far and away the greatest story in Australia's history, if not the world's.'
This is not the first book that has been written about Batavia, but Peter FitzSimons' captivating style is sure to make this a popular read. It's available now at Boat Books, either by personal purchase or online:
Boat Books Sydney
31 Albany Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
phone: (02) 9439 1133
Boat Books Melbourne
214 St Kilda Road
St Kilda VIC 3182
phone: (03) 9525 3444
by Rob Tickner/Sail-World Cruising
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12:14 AM Tue 5 Apr 2011 GMT
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