Fate of the Batavia
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In 1629, the Batavia (man-of-war), with Captain Pelsart aboard, was driven east, due to a nasty storm which had whipped up in the Indian Ocean. One night the Batavia crashed into a group of rocks on the Houtman's Abrolhos, about 30 miles off the west coast of Australia. The people on board endeavoured to reach some islands they saw not far off and many succeeded. But the weather was so stormy, that it was nearly a week before they could leave the wreck and great numbers were drowned before they could reach the shore. Those who escaped from the sea seemed to be only a little less miserable than they had been before, for the islands were quite bare and afforded them neither shelter nor fresh water. Pelsart, therefore, saw no course open but to take one of their small boats and in it try and reach the Dutch settlements, 2,000 miles away, in order to obtain a vessel for the rescue of his people. During his absence of several months, those who were on the islands made rafts and by frequent trips to the wreck, succeeded in procuring the neccessities of life, whilst they waited for the coming aid ; but about sixty of the sailors formed a conspiracy to seize the ship as soon as the captain returned, murder him and his crew and sail away in order to become pirates. To begin their evil plan, they fell upon their companions in the dead of night and murdered over 120 of them as they lay sleeping ; then they attacked those on another island, fortunately without succcess ; and then Pelsart returned but he was warned in time. He captured all the murderers and executed them on the shore.