• That Was Genius Team

Episode 7 - What Do You Do With The Cheerful Sailor (Getting Lost Week)

Updated: Apr 19

Sam's Episode notes: The disappearance of the original Indiana Jones – Percy Fawcett. Percy Fawcett was born 1867 in Devon, to a family of sickeningly adventurous types. His Dad, who'd been born in India, was a senior member of the Royal Geographic Society, and his brother Edward was a mountain climber, expert in eastern occult philosophy, and writer of thriller and adventure novels. He was born to be an adventurer. He joined the army in 1886 as an artillery officer, but quickly realised that maps were where his passion was. He wanted to survey new lands, and being stationed in places like Hong Kong and Ceylon, modern Sri Lanka, was the perfect way to start exploring – often with the agreement of British military intelligence. He was an exciting person to be around, and had lots of celebrity friends including Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote the Lost World based on Fawcett's work in the Amazon – his first South American trip in 1906. He quickly grew to love South America. He'd been sent there as an independent explorer to map the remote territories and borders between the many nations – being independent it was hoped there would be less politics and favouritism in who was given what land on the maps. But what he really liked doing was having a bloody good adventure and telling silly stories. He claimed to have shot a 62 foot anaconda in Bolivia 1907, and discovered several creatures such as a sort of cat-dog hybrid and a giant, highly venomous spider. Most of which is known to be nonsense.


He made several trips out before 1914, getting to know the area well. But it wasn't animals he was really interested in. It was lost treasure. In around 1914, Fawcett came to believe in a great lost city, known as Z, somewhere in the Brazilian Amazon. From local rumours, and studying long lost manuscripts stored in the Brazilian government library vaults from the 1750s, known as manuscript 512, he became convinced that there was a long lost civilisation waiting to be discovered. The city was located, he thought, in the Mato Grosso state of Brazil, according to the documents written by early Portugese explorer João da Silva Guimarães, who claimed to have found a city covered in ancient hyrogliphics, but never gave a location for his find. But before he could set out to find it, world war one arrived. Fawcett was nealr y50 by this time, but still signed up to fight in the trenches, re-enlisting in the royal artillery as a major and being decorated several times for his actions on the front, being promoted to Colonel. After the war, and now in his mid 50s, Fawcett returned to Brazil to search for the lost city of Z. His 1920 expedition was a disaster. Deep in the jungle, he got fever and nearly died, having to shoot his pack mule to survive. He tried again in 1925, this time accompanied by his son Jack, and his friend Raleigh Rimell. The expedition was funded by a group in London known as 'the Glove'. The three set on April 20th, accompanied by two Brazilian guides, some guard dogs, and eight mules. They were last recorded crossing a remote Amazon tributary on May 29th, and were never heard from again. As per Percy's strict instructions, no rescue party was sent out.

Researchers believe that Fawcett may have been influenced in his thinking by information obtained from indigenous people about the archaeological site of Kuhikugu, near the headwaters of the Xingu River.[2] Kuhikugu was discovered by Westerners after Fawcett's presumed death in the jungle in 1925. The site contains the ruins of an estimated twenty towns and villages in which as many as 50,000 people might once have lived. The discovery of other large geometrical earthworks in interfluvial settings of southern Amazonia has since been recognised as supporting Fawcett’s theory.[3] What happened to the group is not known, but there are several theories...


Tom's notes:


Shipwreck of the Vergulde Draek (of Gilt Dragon) in 1656

· VOC; Dutch East India Company

· En route from Netherlands to Jakarta (or Batavia)

o Difficult trip; round Cape of Good Hope and prevailing winds in the Roaring Forties until near Western Australia (Great South Land), then north to Indonesia.

o Longitude difficult! Dead reckoning and reefs

o 1730; John Harrison’s marine chronometer

· 193 men

· trade goods worth 106,400 Dutch guilder together with eight chests of silver coin worth 78,600 Dutch guilder

· Hit reef

o 2 boats get to shore with 75 people

o Captain stays with survivors

o Upper steersman Abraham Leeman with six men set off in an open boat to Jakarta; 2,000 mile journey, 40 days, very limited water.

o Success!

· Governor Maetsuyker sends out ships to find the other 68 people left behind

o 2 boats sent, Goode Hoop and Witte Valk unsuccessful, 11 men die on one boat searching

o 1 more boat a year later, Vinck; no success

o Leeman sent off in Waeckende Boey and Emeloort; soon separated

o Emeloort saw fires, shot canons, more fires; aborigines

o Waeckende Boey,

§ Original campsite found

§ Parts of wreckage found in various places

§ Nearby islands searched

§ Leeman and 13 other search one island, weather turns, Captain Volkersen buggers off in suspicious circumstances!

· Seen fires, shot canons, but didn’t investigate

o Find fresh water, sea birds, seals.

§ Fix up boat and set sail for Jakarta again! Rudder damaged, had been steering with oars

§ Blankets as sails

§ Seal skins to stop leaks

§ Men too tired to hoist sails

§ Continually bailing water

§ The only nautical equipment they have, a compass, breaks

§ Men become irritable

§ Urine and sea water drunk; last 15-16 days

o Reach Java,

§ Boat wrecked on reef, most men run off

o Leeman and 3 others walk the length of Java for 5 weeks until captured by a Prince and sold for ransom

o Captain Volkersen found guilty of gross negligence

· Boat found in 1963; town of Leeman not far away

Dutch East Indies Company very keen to rescue people after the Batavia Shipwreck of 1628

· Wreckage on Morning Reef near Brecon Island; 60k from Western Australia

· Maiden journey

o 150 feet

o 24 cast iron canons

o Silver coins

o Planned to return home with spices

o 340 people

§ 2/3rds were sailors

§ 100 soldiers

§ Rest were civilians

· Pelseart was commander of the fleet (3 boats that were separated)

o Skipper Jacobz; didn’t like each other

§ Right hand man; Cornelisz had planned mutiny

· 100 people died immediately

· Pelseart, Jacobz and 46 other sailed to Batavia in 33 days

o Pelseart returned to rescue remaining survivors after Jacobsz arrested

· Cornelisz seized control

o Around 125 men, women and children murdered (some raped)

o 22 soldiers were sent to Wallabi Island to search for water (in the hope that they would die; Cornelisz). Group led by a Hayes succeed and capture Cornelisz.

· Pelseart rescued remaining survivors and the worst mutineers were hung

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