The escape

We didn't feel like doing slavery work for the rest of our lives. That's why we decided to sneak off as soon as possible. We had the money to buy a boat, but nobody was willing to sell us one. Then we persuaded a neighbor of ours, who was a regular visitor at our home, to work as a puppet for us. Suspiciously he asked what we intended to do with that boat.
We told him we wanted to sail to one of the islands to buy wool. After we promised that we would share the profit, which we would make with the sale of the wool, he agreed and bought the next day a boat from a local fisherman. Almost things went wrong, because the next day this fisherman saw that we were rigging the boat. He wanted to cancel the sale, because he understood we wanted to escape with the boat. If the governor would find out that we escaped with his boat, then he would without doubt be killed.
Probably he was right. That's why we advised him, immediately after we had left, to go to the governor and tell him the Hollanders had stolen his boat. The man started to doubt and when we gave him all the Korean money we had, he yielded. We impressed upon him that he should not go to the governor too fast, because in that case we would possibly be overtaken by the war-junks. If that would happen, we would appoint the fisherman as one of our accessories.

We wanted to leave at the first quarter of the moon, because then, most of the time, the weather is favorable. Since we were in a leap month (February). Coincidence was that two of our mates of the city Sunchon, came to visit us, as we did visit each other more often. We told them about our plan and they decided to join us. They were noncommissioned barber Mattheus Eibocken and Cornelis Dirckse. Apart from those two we also wanted to bring a certain Jan Pieterszen, because he knew about navigating.
One of our mates went hastily to Sunchon to fetch him. Unfortunately it seemed he visited by coincidence the mates in Namwon, which is 15 miles further. This meant an extra stiff walk. After two days both of them returned in SaesOng. The first-mentioned mate had walked in those four days, for about a fifty miles.

We decided to weigh the anchors the following day, September 4, with the moon set, and before the low tide. In the meantime our neighbors became more and more suspicious. We still had to bring all kinds of things aboard and, in order to do so, we had to climb over the city wall all the time. Such a thing naturally couldn't be done unnoticed. That's why we told our neighbors that we wanted to make a beach party. We did as if we were very gay and lighted a big fire at the beach.
Naturally a lot of people came to watch, but luckily one after the other left, as it became later and later. These fishermen get up early and that's why they sleep early. When everybody was gone, we let the fire go out and waited until the moon completely disappeared behind the horizon.

First we sailed to an island right in front of the coast, because we wanted to take in some fresh water. Right alongside the island we sailed to the open sea. Left in front of us, we saw the city shrouded in darkness, with, in front of it, in the roadstead, some war-junks. When we passed the island, we got the full wind in our sails, which we had hoisted in the meantime, and sailed quickly to the open sea.
.By means of the stars we tried to sail a straight course in south-southeastern direction. When it became light, we saw a ship at the right of us. Its crew had noticed us in the meantime as well. They hailed us, but we didn't react to it and let the ship straight in the wind, to make as much speed as possible. When we were far enough from them, we retook the right course, while we now used the rising sun as a beacon.
So we sailed on all of that day. The weather was good and there was a firm breeze. We had agreed that we would sleep in turns, but that went to no avail: everybody stayed wide awake. So we went into the second night. The sky was practically unclouded, and it was not really difficult to sail by means of the stars a straight course. We had cooking pots, fire wood, rice and salt aboard, so we didn't have to starve.

The next day on September 5, with sun rise, the wind vanished completely. That's why we lowered the sail, as not to be visible so easily from a great distance and put ourselves on the oars, to keep the speed from the ship up. Toward the afternoon the wind grew a little from the west. We hoisted sail again and set course, paying attention to the sun, in Southeastern direction. Toward the night the wind increased, from the same direction. We saw the last South point of Korea obliquely behind us. Then we were not afraid anymore to be overtaken and heaved a sigh of relief.
In the morning of September 6, we saw, not far from us, one of the first Japanese islands. That evening we were, as we heard later from the Japanese, off Hirado.
Because none of us had ever been in Japan, we didn't know the coast. From the Koreans we were told that, in order to get to Nagasaki, we shouldn't let any islands on starboard That's why we tried to surround the island, which seemed initially very small, and found ourselves that night west of the country.

On September 7, we sailed with a weak and changing wind, alongside the islands. We discovered that there was a whole row of them, one island after the other. Toward the evening we lowered the sail and rowed to the coast to anchor during the night in a bay. Because there were a lot of turning winds we thought it risky to continue sailing during the night. When we wanted to enter the bay, we saw so many lights of ships, that we thought it wiser to turn around. We hoisted the sail and sailed on all night, with the wind from behind. When it lighted up again, we saw that we were still in the same place as the night before. We suspected we drifted back by the stream. We steered our ship from the shore to get better above the islands.
At about two miles from the coast, we had a strong wind coming from the front. It did cost us a lot of efforts more to guide our brittle little ship into a bay, to seek some shelter there. We lowered the sail, threw out the anchor and started to prepare a meal. We knew at that moment absolutely not where we were. Sometimes a few Japanese fishermen's boats passed by, without paying attention to us.
By evening time the wind began to drop, and we were just about to continue our journey, when a ship with six men aboard, sailed into the bay. When we saw this, we hastily raised the anchor and hoisted the sail in order to get away fast. We would have been successful if we didn't have head wind. Besides more ships entered the bay.

That's why we lowered the sail and hoisted a small flag with the regimental colors of the Prince of Orange (an orange, white blue flag) which we had made especially for that purpose. When the Japanese -because we understood that's what they were - were within shouting distance, we shouted in unison: "Hollando, Nagasaki." The ship, which entered as the first into the bay, came toward us. One of the Japanese stepped on our ship and gestured to the one who was at our helm at that moment to join him aboard the Japanese ship. Accordingly they took us in tow and sailed around a small cape.

On the other side was a small fishermen's village. Here they rigged our ship with a big anchor and a thick rope. Apart from the one who was sitting at the helm, they took some others from our group to the shore. An attempt was being done to interrogate them. But without much result, because both parties didn't understand each other. Our coxswain continued to shout:"Hollanda, Nagasaki."
The last word however they seemed to understand, because more and more Japanese pointed in a certain direction and nodded to us. Our coming, by the way, had caused a lot of consternation. Everything was thrown into confusion. The whole village had come out to take a look at us.
Toward the evening a big sailing ship came sculling into the bay, with lowered sails. We were taken aboard, a man was sitting there, who looked rather impressive.
Later when we were in Nagasaki, we were told that he was a high official, the third in rank on the island. He was a friendly man. He smiled at us. He pointed to us and then said that we were Hollanders. We nodded fiercely. Then he told us we would be taken to Nagasaki in four or five days. That five Hollander ships were anchored there.

We in our turn, tried to make him clear that we came from Korea. That we were shipwrecked thirteen years ago and since then stayed in Korea. And that we tried now to go to Nagasaki to join our countrymen.
We were very relieved that the reception was so friendly. The Koreans had fooled us with telling us that every foreigner who sets foot on Japanese soil, immediately was beaten to death. From this one can see how many nonsense several nations told about each other.

September 9, 10 and 11 we remained anchored. Who wanted to stretch his legs, was allowed to go ashore, but was strictly guarded. We received from the Japanese additionals, water, firewood and what we needed more. Because it started to rain, we received straw mats from them, with which we could make a little tent, so we could sit dry.
On September 12, everything was made ready for the trip to Nagasaki. In the afternoon we lifted the anchor and we arrived by evening time on the other side of the island, where we dropped our anchor to spend the night.
On the thirteenth, at sunrise, the earlier mentioned high official boarded the big sailing ship. He had some letters and goods with him, which were meant for the court of the emperor. Then we lifted our anchor. We were accompanied by two big and two small sailing ships. The two mates who were the first to be brought ashore, were on board of one of the bigger ships. We saw them no earlier back then in Nagasaki.

Toward the night we reached the bay of Nagasaki and at midnight we arrived in the roadstead. Because it was a clear night, we saw clearly the five Dutch ships from which they had told us.

This was a touching moment. Most of us had tears in the eyes. We embraced each other and shouted our throats hoarse from joy.

In the morning of the fourteenth, we set foot ashore in Nagasaki, where we were welcomed by the interpreter of the VOC, who asked us a hundred and naught questions about our adventures. After we had told him our story, he admired the way, that we escaped in such a small ship and made a dangerous journey over, to us unknown waters, to join us with our countrymen.

These two sentences are not mentioned in the original document. Hamel avoided any form of emotionality. But in this place in the Journael, he does mention a relevant fact. Because in the translation of the Journael of 1954 from Yi Pyong Do, a Japanese contemporary source is cited, from which it appeared that the cheers of joy of Hamel and his mates, on the escorting Japanese boats, were clearly audible (For a map of the route taken during Hamel's escape, click here)

Then we went over the bridge, to the island of Deshima, Here we were welcomed by the chief, his lordship, Willem Volger, Mr. Nicolaas de Reij, his replacement, and by a number of employees of the Company. We received a warm welcome and were then provided with Dutch clothes.
We hardly could believe that this was the end of a dangerous adventure which lasted exactly thirteen year and 28 days. We were grateful to the great Lord that He had listened to our prayers and rewarded our efforts with such a good ending.
We spoke of our hope that the eight mates who remained in Korea, also would be liberated from their prison, and that they once could return to their country and people as well. That the Almighty Lord may help them with that.

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