Discovery of the 18th Century Wrecked Slave Ship Sao Jose Paquete Africa

1 Posted by - October 15, 2018 - LATEST POSTS, SLAVERY

was a from the Kingdom of Portugal that sank in 1794 off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. There were approximately 400 to 500 slaves on the ship and 212 of them died when the ship sank. The ship and its slaves were headed to Colonial Brazil from Portuguese Mozambique.

The ship was captained by Manuel Joao Perreira. In its hold were a load of carefully calibrated iron ballasts that sailing ships were required to have in order to successfully transport slaves on the open ocean because of the shifting weight of hundreds of slaves. The ship is one of the first known to make the long-distance passage from Portugal to Mozambique and then to Brazil. The ship was filled with enslaved men, women, and children who were most likely from Mozambique. It is estimated that the trip would have taken the crew and slaves 4-months to reach their final destination, but the trip only lasted for a couple of weeks.

The ship was attempting to go through rough waters off the Cape in the early morning hours on December 27 when it ran into submerged rocks at about 100 meters from shore. The crew sent out distress codes by shooting cannons in the air. The captain and all the crew members were saved but hundreds of African slaves drowned that morning, most likely because of their iron shackles. The slaves who did survive where sold off in the Cape Colony.

The recent find of the ship was by treasure hunters. The group exposed the ship, but they inaccurately recorded it as a Dutch vessel. Between 2010 and 2011, Iziko Museum archaeologist Jaco Boshoff discovered an account of the wreck lodged by the captain of the ship, which rekindled interest in the site. So far, only a few remnants have been retrieved from the wreck site, a turbulent spot located between two reefs.



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1 Comment

  • Michael Smorenburg August 5, 2019 - 4:35 am Reply

    Treasure hunters… misidentified as a Dutch Vessel.
    Those treasure hunters were….me and my dear friend, Francois Hugo (who sadly died 12 March 2018 from cancer).
    We duly registered the find and acquired salvage permits; but, being youngsters and amateurs after gold, alas, we could not identify the ship.
    All fo the artefacts we lifted – cannon balls, cannon, nails, copper that we found, we turned over to Jaco – now on display at the slave museum.

    To pay homage, I wrote the story of the find and the wreck in a novel (The Praying Nun — and its sequel, The Reckoning) that has twice been #1 Best Seller in category at Amazon.

    I live not 100m from the wreck site, overlooking it.

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