Van arsdale project/ships

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1653 - 1654

When did Sijmon leave? Sijmon’s older brother, Philip, was married in Gouda on May 13, 1653 [15]. It is believed that the two brothers were close, and so it is likely that Sijmon wished to attend his brother’s wedding. Consequently, we can assume that he left Amsterdam after May. Recently, it has become known that two ships made the journey from Amsterdam to New Netherland that year, both departing at the same time [16]. These ships were the Coninck Salomon and the Geldersche Blom (King Solomon and the Flower of Gelderland). (Family history states that Sijmon sailed aboard the Dynasty. No vessel by that name was known to have made the journey to New Netherland.) The two ships left Amsterdam on Saturday, August 23, 1653 for the Dutch island of Texel, there to begin the trans-Atlantic voyage.

Amsterdam was not situated on a coastline of the ocean or a major sea, such as the North Sea. What today is reclaimed polderland around Amsterdam was, in the 17th century, open water - the Zuiderzee. Some 60 miles of the Zuiderzee had to be traversed before reaching Texel and the North Sea. Once at the harbor of Texel, weather conditions dictated any further sailing. Consequently, due to the capricious nature of the North Sea, many ships had to wait – sometimes for weeks - for the weather to improve satisfactorily. Additionally, Texel was a vital source of fresh water for the long journey. Many wells on the island had been dug specifically for the travelers, and the water bought from them was used to finance a local orphanage [17]. The water in Amsterdam was notoriously foul even in those days, as effluents from tanneries and linen- bleaching fields found their noxious ways into the Amstel.

The Coninck Salomon was a WIC (West India Company) ship while the Geldersche Blom was a “galjoot”. A galjoot, or galliot, was a long, narrow light-draft Dutch merchant ship carrying a mainmast and a jigger with a mainsail having a long foot and short gaff. It is known that the Geldersche Blom carried passengers as well as cargo.

From Texel, the Dutch ships embarked on the journey following one of four well-established routes. Although we may never know the exact route Sijmon took, we can narrow it down to the two most likely crossings.

From Holland, the ships first sailed past the southern tip of England, on occasion stopping for supplies or repairs at Portsmouth or Plymouth. This was not the case in 1653, however, as the First English War was raging, and docking a Dutch ship at an English harbor was ill-advised. Otherwise, the ships continued on along the coasts of Spain and Portugal destined for a stopover either at the Canary or, further south, Cape Verde Islands. If Sijmon’s ship went to the Cape Verde Islands, they sailed past the west coast of Africa on their way to Brazil along the North Equatorial Current, aided by the Northeast Trade Wind. This took them to the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean (probably Curaçao or perhaps Tobago). From that locale, they caught the Antilles Stream to the Gulf Stream along the eastern North American coast to their destination, the mouth of the Hudson River.

If Sijmon’s ship instead enjoyed a stopover at the Canary Islands, they would then turn west to either the Leeward or the Windward Islands (the Netherlands Antilles) of St. Kitts, St. Eustace, St. Maarten, or St. Saba. From either archipelago, the ships would then follow the Antilles Stream north to the Gulf Stream and then on to the Hudson River.

The Geldersche Blom anchored at New Amsterdam on Sunday, November 2, 1653 with the Coninck Salomon arriving one day later. The trans-Atlantic trip had taken a little over two months, an average time in those days.

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