The VOC Ship Schoonenberg caught the first glimpse of African coastline on November 16th, 1722.

Four days later, it would be wrecked at Cape Agulhas, as a dysfunctional crew and their aloof Captain, Albertus van Soest, compounded a series of errors leading to the driving of the vessel straight into the rocks at Struisbaai. At leat one of the sailors died shortly afterwards on the beach, and the remainder faced a gruelling struggle to reach the Cape of Good Hope over land.

A signficant threat on the mind of van Soest as the Schoonenberg coasted in was that of pirates. This was the hunting ground of the Draak. Fearsome in size and reputation, this pirate ship was well known to the VOC authorities at the Cape, and the commanders of her cargo ships calling in here.

The Draak was once a Dutch ship named the Kroonprins van Pruissen, but had been captured by pirates in May 1718 and renamed.

Two Dragons

In the VOC records, the Draak is only ever referred to as Draak and not Dragon.

There is the pirate ship named Draak, and also an “English Ship” named Draak. Are these one and the same? The naming of Draak as an English ship is unusual, as all English ships were referred to by their English names in VOC records, and not translated.

An English ship named the Drake, an Eastindiaman on cargo runs, was active at the Cape around this time. The Captain was William Whitaker and later William Westerbane [>].

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