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"The Johanna 1682 (Joanna)"

Reference: Cape Argus, Government Gazette.

The Johanna   was the first English East Indiaman to be wrecked on the South African coastline. She was an English East Indiaman of 550 tons, commanded by Captain Robert Brown.

Johanna 1682, Blower unit being used on siteShe was on an outward bound voyage from the Downs, off south-east Kent, which she had left on the 27th February 1682 in the company of 4 other ships named the Williamson, Nathaniel, Welvaert   and Samson  , all bound for Bengal except the Johanna   destined for Surat. They lost her about 35 or 40 miles to the east of the Cape, at about 4 o'clock in the morning of the 8th June, during good but dark weather, with a cloudy sky, by turning her ashore. The Johanna's   principal cargo consisted of silver specie to the value of 72 000 pounds (70 chests of pieces-of-eight and silver bullion of the English factories in Bengal). Ten people drowned and 104 people reached Cape Town. Rumours of treasure on board the ship caused Simon van der Stel to send a salvage party, headed by Ensign Olaf Bergh, a Dutch East India Company official, to see what they could find. On arrival at the site, Bergh found four bodies washed up on shore, which they buried. Besides bottles of Brandy, casks of wine and beer, Bergh found 613 Spanish Reels, which had all washed up on shore. This stimulated Bergh's desire to get out to the wreck and he sent for a carpenter and a slave named Pay Mina, who was a trained pearl diver. Bergh returned to the Castle after a successful salvage of recovering coins to the value of 28, 302 gulden.


The Johanna   lay untouched and lost for 300 years, until Charles and his group, which consisted of Gavin Clackworthy, Bert Kutzer, Tommy Botha, Andre Hartman and Erik Lombard, discovered her remains in 1982.


The site was located on the outer reefs of "Die Dam" east of Quoin Point. Most of the site lay under sand and a prop-wash machine was purchased to excavate this shallow site. Over 23,000 cob coins were recovered as well as a few hundred kilograms of silver bullion in the form of disc ingots. 44 Iron cannon were located on the site, but more are rumoured to have been seen on shore by older fishermen.


The Johanna   was the second site to fall under the new National Monuments Council Act regarding shipwrecks, the first being the "Arniston 1815   " wrecked at Arniston.


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Charles Shapiro cc T/A "Aqua Exploration"


South African Historical Wreck Society
www.sahws.org.za

+27 (0) 82 086 5937

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