Mittwoch, 10. Februar 2016

During historical epochs, when geographical exploration was still in advance and worldwide matching nautical charts didn´t exist already, parallel attribution of site-names was very common. Maps of coastlines and islands must have been drawn simultaneously by european sailors of different origin and language and only within the passing of time site names became standardized under international conveniences. So it is no reason to wonder about the fact, that certain site names only appear on a reduced number of maps or are less cited in literature and "dissappear" during the advance of time. One of this cases worth to mention is the existencce of an Island called NASSAU in the SUNDA STRAIT near the coast of JAVA. 

In the early times of the development of naval trade between Europe and East Asia the SUNDA STRAIT had an important significance as ocean passage between the Indonesian islands Sumatra and Java that allowed the most short connection on the "Cape of Good Hope - Southern Chinese Sea" route. Since the construction of the Suez Channel the ship passage through the Straits of Malacca and Singapoore has gained more importance. 

The Sunda Strait extends over about 125 kilometers between Sumatra and Java and measures at it´s most narrow site 24 kilometers width. It´s deeper waters at it´s western entrance (also called: Groote Passage) become much more shallow towards the east, with sea-ground depths of only 20 meters. Coming from the west, the passage of the Sunda-Strait was followed by the arrival at the harbour BATAVIA on Java, the prior most important trade post on the Indonesian Islands for the Dutch East India Company, nowadays called Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

Map of Sunda Strait and Batavia drawn related to the voyage of "SS Governeur Generaal London" in late August 1883 during the volcanoe eruption on Cracatao Island

The Sources of the Sunda-"NASSAU"-Denomination

The sources of the naming of an island at the occidental entrance are of german origin. As upside mentioned the island Java with the town Batavia was considered as the "Headquarter" of the Netherlands East India Company VOC since the year 1620. Contemporary dutch maps from that epoch don´t show any island of the Sunda-Strait that would carry the name Nassau or one of it´s permutations. 

Most prominent islands in the ocean passage are Pulau Panaitan at the southwestern entrance of the Strait, the Cracatao Archipelago with the neighboured islands Pulau Sebesi and Pulau Subuku and the Sangiang Island that occupies a somewhat "disturbing" position in the center of the narrow eastern entrance, observed from the sailors point of view. That was also the reason, why Sangiang received the name "Dwarsindeway" on Dutch maps, what could be translated with "being placed in the way". Pulau Subuku firms there as "Schulters Insel" and Pulau Sebesi as "Slebes". The volcanoe Archipelago is composed by "Cracatoa", "Stone Island", "Long Island" and "Varlatens Island", the latter means "Abandoned Island". The dutch map-name for Pulau Panaitan is "Princess Island" or also "Prinsen Eyland", depending what map is consulted. Neither Nassau nor Orange site names appear in that nearer region.

The most near Nassau Island to the Sunda Strait we can find on one of the most famous cartography works from 1680 edited by Ioannes van Keulen in Amsterdam, titeled NIEUWE PASCAERT VAN OOSTINDIEN that shows the VOC trade areas in East India. But this or these "Nassau Islands" are situated about 750 kilometers more towards the northwest from Sunda Passage and belong to the Mentawai Islands in front of the coast of Sumatra. That latter Nassau site will be considered more detailled in the correspondent article Nassau/Mentawai of this publication series.

Nassau (Naßsow) Island near Sunda Strait on an VOC map from 1680
Source : Wikipedia

So, from where is deduced the assertion, that a Nassau Island in the Sunda passage exists ? The answer leads us to one of the most colourful and descriptively painted german books edited based on an historic manuscript written during the voyages of a german adventurer and scientist who sailed under the flag of the Dutch Trade Companies WIC and VOC to South America, Africa and East Asia within two voyages from 1642-1645 and 1646-1652. Here is talked about the person of Caspar Schmalkalden and the book "Miraculous voyages to West- and EastIndia 1642-1652" printed in 1982 by the VEB Brockhaus Leipzig after the restoration of 489 handwritten pages including 128 maps and coloured pen drawings saved in the Gotha Library. 

The second part of the manuscript´s authors travel report starts on page 87 with the diary entry, that "at 6th April 1646 in the name of god they left the harbour of Texel on board of the ships Elephant, Ammiral, Banda, Vice-Ammiral, King David, Schout-by-Nacht and Patientia". After anchoring from 19th September until 7th October at Cape of Good Hope the further travel led towards Batavia. For that sea-travel the VOC fleet took a rather incommon route to cross the Indian Ocean, what could indicate, that the mission was led under a combined comercial-scientific-military aspect. For the 31st October Caspar mentions in his diary the sighting of the "St. Paulo Island" at 2 ocean-miles northeast. To reach that beautiful volcanic rock with natural harbour bay, the fleet had to sail from Cape of Good Hope first towards east-southeast with travel destination Tasmania before in the proper center of the Southern Indian Ocean  it changed it´s course towards northeast. 

Course of the VOC fleet in 1646 through the Indian Ocean on it´s way to Batavia
Map : CID Institute Graphics / Wikimapia

The volcanoe island St. Paul at 38`16``South and 94`20``East
Source : Wikimapia

The sailing ship group next time sights dry land 35 days later, at 5th December 1646, when the german travel-diary author notes that "at aproximately 9 o´clock in the morning we sighted the Island Nahsau in north-northeast in front of us at the height of 39´degrees" but only next day, at 6th December "in the morning became visible the coast of Sumatra and another little island". These annotations remain somewhat confusing, not only because the geographical position of "Naßsow Island" registered on VOC maps of that time was about 750 kms more northward but also because the degree of latitude of the Sunda Street entrance is situated at 6´39´´South and the latitude of 39´degrees south would be coincident with the ships position at end of october when passing by St. Pauls Island and the somewhat more northern Amsterdam Island.

The following days are registered in the diary with the remarks, that at 8th December, three days after having passed by "Nahsau Island", is seen "Cracaton", where from a javan ships is recovered food and refreshment, and at 10th December reached the harbour of Batavia. In that context calls also the attention the rather long sailing time between the Caspar Schmalkaldens Nassau Island and the Cracatao Archipelago (3 days) meanwhile the much longer distance to Batavia was done in only 2 more days. This "time delay" could be explained with the fact, that after the 35 days Indian Ocean passage the ships searched first to recover their drinking-water storage that probably was exhausted during the long ocean transit, when they came in sight of Java and Sumatra. 

In fact, the only island in mention that could be coincident with the Nahsau Island of the voyage diary is PULAU PANAITAN, but that island on contemporary maps is titeled Princess Island. Pulau Panaitan, seen from it´s sattelite perspective point of view, has a certain similarity with the Saint Pauls volcanoe island in the Southern Indic, regarding the natural bay formed by two islands peninsulas. This bay on contemporary maps is named "Kaßsuaris Bay" (1702-1707) or also "Nasuaris Baai" (1855), the latter name given on a map painted by the german naturalist and explorer Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn in the margin of his Java studies. 

Panaitan, Prinsen or Princess Island or Nahsau with the Kasuaris Bay in sattelite view
Source : Wikimapia

The Panaitan Bay named Nasuaris Baai on the Geological Map of Java from 1855 drawn by F.W.Junghuhn

Nasuaris, this latest name-coincidence or better said similarity on Junghuhn´s map could be an indication, that the term "Nassau" in history had been attributed to Panaitan Island by a limited number of users or insiders so that in fact it didn´t remain persistent or assertive in registered data archives.

Panaitan today is part of the Java Ujong Kulon National Park that includes furthermore territories on the westernmost tip of Java (Java Head) and the Cracatao Archipelago. The mostly uninhabited island (except a National Park Ranger Station) has an extension of 170 square kilometers with a length of 21 and a width of 12,7 kms. The highest elevation is mount Gunung Raksa ith 329 meters. The National Park was founded already in 1921. Amazing is his heavily protected fauna of rare and seldom wild animals as for example. 

Rhinoceros sondaicus
Cervus timorensis
Muntiacus muntiacus
Sus verrucosus
Tragulus kantchil
Macaca fascicularis
Presbytis comata
Panthera pardus melas
Tomistoma schlegelii
Dogania subplana
Varanus salvator bivittatus
Python molurus

See also:   
Species List of Ujong Kulon National Park World Heritage
UNESCO Nature Reserve Shield
National Park Homepage

The proclamation of the western Sunda Strait as coral reef diving and surfing tourism paradise has led to serious restrictions for the visit of this area to protect that ecosystem. Visit permissions and company of nature guides are obligatory.

Second Thoughts : Panaitan

Most prominent site of the island is the Great Panaitan Bay, actually named Teluk Sarimo in malaysian language. The bay provides amazing beaches, coral reefs and surfable ocean waves, but an tourist surf center constructed in 2005 had to be closed down again in 2009. The bay as upside mentioned historically titeled Kasuaris or Nasuaris was visited during the 1st voyage of the HMS Endeavour under James Cook who anchored inside the Panaitan Bay from 6. until 16. January 1771 (Source: French Wikipedia). The attribution of the name Kasuaris Bay could be related to the name of the Cassowary Birds, but the recent living species are known only from Australia and New Guinea.

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia mentions the existence of statuaries of the Hindu deities Ganesha and Shiva on Mount Raksa. A underwater video of SJCAM Indonesia shows anthropogenic structures in the Panaigan coral reefs. No details are given if the structures on the sea ground are result of an intentional sinking of objects from ships or former shore constructions that now are situated under the water level due to a lowering of the island surface level related to the Cracatao eruption or similar tectonic events.

Exploration excursion to Panaitan

The references to Panaitan Island 
in the travel diary of Captain James Cook 
(HMS Endeavour 1768-1771)

As upside mentioned the Panaitan Island was an anchoring site of the HMS Endeavour during the first circumnavigation of the british explorer and naturalist James Cook. The first mentioning of Panaitan in Captain James Cook´s diary is cited for the day 1st October 1770, when the HMS Beagle on it´s way from Queensland / Australia through Torres Strait towards Batavia reached the western entrance of the Sunda Strait, where Cook "at 6 o´clock saw the west-end Java Head and short later the Princess Island and at 10 o´clock Cracatao" :

[October 1770. Enter Sunda Strait. 
Monday, 1st October. First and latter parts fresh breezes at South-East and fair weather; the Middle squally with Lightning and rain. At 7 p.m., being then in the latitude of Java head, and not seeing any land, assured us that we had got too far to the Westward; upon which we hauld up East-North-East, having before Steerd North by East. At 12 o’Clock saw the Land bearing East, Tack’d, and stood to the South-West until 4, then stood again to the Eastward, having very unsettled squally weather which split the Main Topsail very much, and obliged us to bend the other; many of our Sails are now so bad that they will hardly stand the least puff of Wind. At 6 o’Clock Java head, on the West end of Java, bore South-East by East, distant 5 Leagues; soon after this saw Princes Island, bearing East 1/2 South. At 10 o’Clock saw the Island of Cracatoa* bearing North-East, distant 7 Leagues; Princes Island extending from South 53 degrees East to South by West, distant 3 Leagues. Course and distance saild since Yesterday at Noon is North 24 degrees 30 minutes East, 70 Miles. latitude in per Observation, 6 degrees 29 minutes South, Longitude 251 degrees 54 minutes; but either our Longitude must be erroneous or the Straits of Sunda must be faltily laid down in all Books and Charts; but this no doubt we shall have an opportunity to settle.* 

Surprisingly the same regisitry is repeated in Cooks diary also the next day, Tuesday, 2nd October 1770, as if the HMS Beagle wouldn´t have advanced towards the east during the past 24 hours :

(* Cook’s longitude was in error nearly three degrees. No lunars had been taken since they left Savu, and there is a current running westward. It is a good example of the error of dead reckoning, even with the most careful of navigators.)

Tuesday, 2nd. In the P.M., had the wind at South-South-East, South-East by South and South-South-East, with which we stood to the Eastward close upon a wind. At 6 o’Clock the Hill on Princes Island bore South-West by South, and Cracatoa Island, North 10 Miles; in this situation had 58 fathoms, standing still to the Eastward. At 8 o’Clock had 52 fathoms, muddy bottom, at 10 23 fathoms. By 4 in the morning we fetched close in with the Java shore in 15 fathoms, then steer’d along shore. At 5 it fell Calm, which continued with some Variable light Airs until noon, at which time Anger Point bore North-East, distant 1 League, and Thwart-the-way Island North. In the morning I sent a Boat ashore to try to get some fruits for Tupia, who is very ill, and, likewise, to get some grass, etc., for the Buffaloes we have still left. The Boats return’d with only 4 Cocoa Nutts, a small bunch of Plantains, which they purchased of the Natives for a Shilling, and a few Shrubs for the Cattle.
(Cooks Voyage Journal Chapter 9 - 2.10.1770)  

The following 3 month Cook´s diary describes the stage in Batavia that is accompanied by severe health problems inside his crew. Somewhat repaired and recovered the return voyage starts short before New Year 1771 and again the Princess Island comes in sight of HMS Beagle at 4th of January 1771. Surprisingly the captain decided to stop again on Princess Island to recover fresh water and wood before crossing the Indian ocean towards Cape of Good Hope. That wonders, because the storage refill for the return voyage should have been accomplished already in Batavia harbour that the ship left 1 week before. 

At Sunday 6. January 1771 around 3 o´clock the HMS Beagle anchored in the Great Panaitan Bay (Nasuaris Bay) where Cook entered in contact with natives that provided fresh water and living animals as fresh meat provisioning. The natives where described as rather good trafficking with the Europeans. After obtaining turtles and fowls Cook again "sent a gunner ashore with some hands for water supply" meanwhile the health situation of his crew is described by himself as "worse than in Batavia". 

On Monday 7th January the ship received more living animals such as turtles, fowls, fish and two species of deer that were prepared as meal at once because the animals "seldom lived more than 24 hours in our possession". Also limes, coconut and plantains where stored meanwhile all recovered goods became "payed with spanish dollars to the natives".

Friday, 4th. Most part of these 24 hours squally, rainy weather, winds variable between the North-North-West and South-South-West; at 5 p.m. anchor’d in 28 fathoms water, Cracatoa West, distant 3 miles. Some time after the wind veer’d to North-West, with which we got under sail, but the wind dying away we advanced but little to the South-West before noon, at which time Princes Island bore South-West, distance 8 or 9 Leagues.

Saturday, 5th. Had fresh breezes at South-West, with squally, rainy weather until the evening, when it clear up, and the wind veer’d to South and South-East, with which we stood to the South-West all night. In the morning the wind veer’d to North-East, which was still in our favour; at noon Princes Island bore West 1/2 South, distant 3 Leagues.
[At Anchor. Princes Island, Sunda Strait.]
Sunday, 6th. At 3 o’clock in the P.M. anchor’d under the South-East side of Princes Island in 18 fathoms water, in order to recruite our wood and water, and to procure refreshments for the people, which are now in a much worse state of health than when we left Batavia. After coming to an anchor I went on shore to look at the watering place, and to speak with the Natives, some of whom were upon the Beach. I found the watering place convenient, and the water to all appearance good, Provided proper care is taken in the filling of it. The Natives seemed inclined to supply us with Turtle, Fowls, etc.; Articles that I intended laying in as great a stock as possible for the benefit of the Sick, and to suffer every one to purchase what they pleased for themselves, as I found these people as easy to traffick with as Europeans. In the morning sent the Gunner ashore with some hands to fill water, while others were empboy’d putting the whole to rights, sending on shore Empty Casks, etc. Served Turtle to the Ship’s Company. Yesterday was the only Salt meat day they have had since our arrival at Java, which is now near 4 months.

Monday, 7th. From this day till Monday 14th we were employ’d wooding and watering, being frequently interrupted by heavy rains. Having now compleated both we hoisted in the Long boat, and made ready to put to Sea, having on board a pretty good stock of refreshments, which we purchased of the natives, such as Turtle, Fowls, Fish, two species of Deer, one about as big as a small sheep, the other no bigger than a Rabbit; both sorts eat very well, but are only for present use, as they seldom lived above 24 hours in our possession. We likewise got fruit of several sorts, such as Cocoa Nutts, plantains, Limes, etc. The Trade on our part was carried on chiefly with money (Spanish Dollars); the natives set but little value upon any thing else. Such of our people as had not this Article traded with Old Shirts, etc., at a great disadvantage.
[Batavia to Capetown.]
Tuesday, 15th. Had variable light airs of wind, with which we could not get under sail until the morning, when we weighed with a light breeze at North-East, which was soon succeeded by a calm.

Wednesday, 16th. Had it calm all P.M., which at 5 o’clock obliged us to Anchor under the South Point of Princes Island, the said Point bearing South-West by West, distance 2 miles. At 8 o’clock in the A.M. a light breeze sprung up at North, with which we weigh’d and stood out to Sea. At noon Java Head bore South-East by South, distance 2 Leagues, and the West Point of Princes Island North-North-West, distance 5 Leagues; latitude Observed 6 degrees 45 minutes South. Java Head, from which I take my departure, lies in the latitude of 6 degrees 49 minutes South, and Longitude 255 degrees 12 minutes Westfrom the Meridian of Greenwich, deduced from several Astronomical Observations made at Batavia by the Reverend Mr. Mohr.*

(Cooks Voyage Journal Chapter 10 - 4th - 16th January 1771)

Last registry of the HMS Beagle ship crews and captains activity on Panaitan / Princess Island is the correct payment of the natives on Monday, 7th January 1771. Then the Beagle set sail to return to England on Wednesday 16th - 9 days later. So, what happened on the HMS Beagle and/or on Panaitan-Princess Island between 7th and 16th January ? 

For a scientific discovery travel it symbolizes a rather obscure fact to loose the opportunity to describe during 9 days the abundant animal, plant and human diversity on an tropical paradise island. This unscientific fact only could be explained by an even more human distraction of the Europeans - for example by beautiful native woman. But generally the island was described as uninhabited. So one of the greatest discoverers lost in 1770-71 the chance to tell more about why Princess Island remaind so confusing for sailors diaries.

Further hipothesis about the origin of the Nassau Island description in the Sunda Strait following Caspar Schmalkalden´s travel diary from 1646

Finally considered cannot be excluded, that the travel diary of Caspar Schmalkalden contains fake data regarding his description of the route that the 1646-expeditions ships took to cross the Indian Ocean. As already mentioned upside, the course from Cape of Good Hope to St. Pauls Island and then northward to Sunda Strait has to be considered as uncommon route. The travelling duration of 23 days to Central South Indic Ocean and of another 35 days from there until Indonesia also seem not to be in a correct correlation to the distances travelled. Also in the early times of intercontinental sailing ship navigation it was most common to move along coastlines or following island chains and not to cross weeks long the open ocean, where no freswater or food supply uptake would have been possible. The more probable route would have led the ships towards Madagascar and furthermore over Reunion, Mauritius, Diego Garcia / Salomon Islands, Maledives and Ceylon towards Sumatra.  

If we believe here, that Schmalkaldens ship sighted "Nassau Island" at 5th December 9 a.m., then the next day 6th December "a smaller island and the coast of Sumatra" and then 2 days later at 8th December "Cracatao", the real travel route of his ship was from north towards south and not vice-versa. This would also be coincident with the "normal" travel route described in the preceding paragraph. Then, Caspar Schmalkalden also wouldn´t have been wrong with the name attribution of Nahsaw Island but the sighted land wouldn´t have been Panaitan but the two Pagai Islands. The smaller island sighted next day could have been Engano Island. Also the travel time of two days from Engano to Cracato for a sailing ship in 1646 seems to be realistic.

Probable real route that took the fleet with Caspar Schmalkaldens ship along the coast of Sumatra into the Sunda Strait.
Source : CID Institute Graphics / Pascaert van Oost-Indien 1640 (extract)

That indicates, that the Nahsow Island name attribution to Pagai by Schmalkalden is correct. The erroneous coincidence of Schmalkalden´s Nassau Island with Panaitan is established only in the geographical index of the travel diary book printed 336 years later in 1982. Schmalkaldens ship probably never saw Panaitan or "Prinsen Island" as named by Dutch in the 17th century.

Another version that would give finally again reason to the description of Schmalkalden could be, that the expedition ships however crossed the whole Indian Ocean, coming from St. Paul Island, but got lost on their journey northward and missed the Sunda Strait, sailing too far in the west towards Ceylon and then returned to southeast, arriving at the Mentawai Islands coming from northwest and then going on towards Engano, Cracato and Batavia as mapped.

But why gives the german travel diary writer an uncomplete or wrong description of the ocean-crossing course taken by his ship and additionally combines the "39 degrees south" latitudinal position of the St. Pauls Island - which maybe he never saw in reality - with the name of the Nassau Island - Pagai / Mentawai, that in reality is situated at 2 degrees south?  

Book-Cover of "THE WONDROUS VOYAGES OF CASPAR SCHMALKALDEN TO WEST- AND EASTINDIA 1642-1652" edited by VEB Brockhaus Leipzig in 1983 with an illustration of the "NASAU-HORN" Rhinoceros on the title page

Edition 19th February 2016

The description will be actualized when more data are available.

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen