When the VOC ship 'Haarlem' was stranded in Table Bay in 1647, no one could suspect that this incident would make a significant contribution to South Africa's history. 62 of the sailors stayed behind to protect the ship's load. For a period of one year, they sought refuge in a survival camp, fortress 'Zandenburch', and came into contact with the locals. This resulted in friendly relationships and mutual appreciation for each other's culture.
When the 'Haarlem' crew returned to the Netherlands in August 1648, a positive report was made of the experience gained. This made the board of the VOC decide to set up a refreshment station for passing ships at the Cape. This establishment expanded to become Cape Town: the 'Mother City' of South Africa. Thus, the roots of today's multi-racial and multi-cultural South African society are partly the result of the 'Haarlem' accident.
Since 1989, Bruno Werz has been investigating the wreckage of the Haarlem and the survivors' camp. A book has recently appeared on this issue. (The Haarlem Shipwreck (1647): The Origins of Cape Town. Unisa Press, Pretoria 2017. ISBN: 978-1-86888-839-9).
The research is being conducted by the non-profit African Institute for Marine & Underwater Research, Exploration & Education (AIMURE). Web site: http://www.aimure.org .
Based on extensive historical and geophysical research, five locations have been identified over the last few months where the wreckage of the Haarlem is likely to be. By means of test excavations these points need to be further investigated. The necessary concessions have been obtained and the intention is to start with the so-called 'fieldwork' in November this year. Although a number of sponsors have already provided the necessary infrastructural facilities, an additional amount of Euro 7,800 or South African Rand 120,000 is required. This amount will be used to cover expenses for: an environmental inspector, a health and safety officer, a driver of a excavator and fuel costs.