The Vliegent Hart was built in 1729. It was one of the 145' class of company vessels of which 43 were built in the first half of the 18th century by the Chamber of Zeeland. It was armed with approximately 42 guns, mostly iron, except for two 6 pounders placed near to the compass and six small deck swivel guns made of bronze. Completed in eleven months and twenty-one days, it successfully concluded her maiden voyage having arrived in Batavia from Rammekens in July 1731, returning to Holland in August 1734.
The second and final voyage of theVliegent Hart began from Rammekens in Zeeland soon after midday on 3rd February 1735. The heavily laden ship left port in convoy with the smaller ship, the Anna Catharina and the pilot boat Mercurius.
As well as the cargo packed away in the hold the Vliegent Hart was carrying some 256 people including 167 officers and crew, 83 soldiers and six passengers including the eminent lawyer, Jan Douw, who had recently been appointed as a member of the Counsel of Justice in Batavia.
The skipper of the Mercurius, Willem Gerbrantsz had been ordered to steer the two ships in a northeasterly gale between the treacherous sandbanks of the Deurloo channel to the North Sea. From there Gerbrantsz was to accompany them as far as the Isle of Wight in order to protect the two trading ships against English privateers. From there both vessels could continue their voyage to the Dutch East Indies via the Cape of Good Hope. Sometime around 17:00 during the dark and storm swept evening the Anna Catharina was blown off course and ran aground hitting one of the many deadly sandbanks lining the Deurloo Channel. Within two hours the ship had been beaten to pieces by the storm and fierce waves and her entire company of 175 sailors and soldiers on board were drowned. The Vliegent Hart following the Anna Catharina struck the same sandbank though after four long hours the crew managed to float the stricken vessel from the destructive sandbank. By now the unfortunate vessel had broken adrift, and the hapless crew dropped the sea anchors at close to midnight in deeper water on the Schooneveld. Although the crew fought desperately to save the ship and their lives, water poured into her broken hull and 15 minutes after firing off her cannons in distress, the Vliegent Hart sank slowly beneath the waves.
Diving the Wreck
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|Wrecking of the