The sea lane from Europa to India and the Far East along the shoreline of South Africa was the only one till the Suez Canal was opend winter 1869. The coastline from Cape Town to London has the byname The Shipwreck Coast.
The Nieuwe Haerlem and Schiedam, two Dutch East India Company (VOC) ships, left Batavia for Holland on 22 December 1646. The Haerlem ran aground near Table Bay on 22 March 1647, and although another VOC ship, the Elephant, tried to help, the crew of the Haerlem was forced to abandon ship. The more than 60 survivors began building a wooden fort, called Sandenburgh, with the help of the Elephant and Schiedam’s crews, and tried to save as much of the company’s property as possible. This means that the first European settlement of South Africa occurred as a result of a shipwreck.