Under the command of Capt. Jan van der Linden, Schoonenberg left Texel on 10 February 1719 on her maiden voyage with a final destination of Ceylon. Following the routine stop at Cape Town, the ship departed on 10 August 1719 for Ceylon with 221 crew on board. However, due to strong westerly winds the ship was unable to make progress to the east, and on 8 November, with dwindling supplies of water and food, the crew made the decision to divert to Mocha. A navigational error meant that instead of entering the area of the Red Sea beyond Bab-el-Mandeb, the ship instead sailed into a river mouth at Saylac, Ajura (present day Zeila, Somalia). The river is referred to by the crew as the “Journaldus Rivier”, which is depicted on an old map of the VOC.
This mistake compounded their problems, because in addition to the lack of critical provisions, they faced a security problem: the hostility of the locals. On 25 November, they reached a point 8-9 miles upriver, and despite opposition from the third helmsman, Pieter Bellaard, the Captain ordered that they launch their small boat and go on shore to negotiate for supplies. The attempt at bargaining ended in massacre: all but one of the 16 that went onshore were killed almost instantly by the locals, including van der Linden, the Captain.
Following the horrific murder of their compatriots, and with scores already dead from malnutrition, hunger, and thirst, the remaining crew were in a very difficult position, too weak to sail the ship elsewhere for help, and despondent to their fate. Thanks to a chance encounter on 28 November with a small local VOC ship, they were able to communicate their plight to the company post at Mocha. However, with limited resources, all the company could do was send occasional supplies to aid them, and the Schoonenberg remained where it was. On 8 December 1719, the crew tried to make sail for Mocha, but strong currents and a general air of despondency prevented any progress. No further attempts to sail were made until 25 March 1720, but again, they could not muster the strength to depart.
A final attempt in June of 1720 finally succeeded, and the Schoonenberg limped into the port of Mocha
with 83 sailors, 59 soldiers, four passengers, and a total of 75 dead. In total, they had spent six months at the mouth of the river. The Schoonenberg finally reached Ceylon on 16 September 1720, and departed back to the Netherlands on 22 November, reaching Texel on 21 August 1721.