Captain Bote Gosse Bruinsma was born on 20 Aug 1861 at Franeker in the Dutch province of Friesland. (North West Province of the Netherlands). As a son of Pier Bruinsma and Jeltje Bos. (a)

This province has its own language “Frisian” and therefore the first names are not always similar as the rest of the Country.  As he joined the company in his 25th year, there is reason to believe that he was employed somewhere else first.

He married on 25 May 1887 at Rotterdam with Mrs. Jacoba Ypelaar (born 15 Feb. 1863 at Borger) with whom he had three children. (Pieter (1888), Ida Jeltje (1889), Anna Wiecherdina (1893) Johan Bote (1894)) (a).  In 1888 he is noted to be living in v/d Takstraat 2b. in Rotterdam.


Captain Bruinsma from an 1889 photo taken during his first year in command

Captain Bruinsma had a rather exciting career with a number of mishaps, although none of his doing. As Captain he was in command of the ss Leerdam (I), and departed for his first voyage in command  when this ship sunk after a collision on 16 Dec. 1889. With that ship he had left Amsterdam on 15 December for a voyage to La Plata in South America. The company was trying to cash in on an upswing in emigrant trade to Argentina and had established a new service to this area. Two new ships (Didam and Dubbeldam) would be especially constructed for this purpose but then another revolution in the area put a complete stop to it.

The ss Leerdam (II) It is assumed that this photo was taken during a departure from New York.

Wile steaming south bound towards the English Channel the ship hit on the portside by the British ss Gaw Quan Sia. On board 19 First Class and 426 emigrants. Both remain stuck together and eventually both ships sink but after a prolonged time so that there was plenty of time to safe them all. Captain Bruinsma had ordered an extensive amount of food supplies to loaded into the lifeboats so everybody could eat and drink while waiting for the rescue. (This helped once on board the rescue ship as they could not cater for soo many. But they did provide wine taken from the ships cargo.) Because the crew of the Gaw Quan Sia had not used all their lifeboats, 3 were taken over by Captain Bruinsma to gives all the passengers more space. A passing German ship the ss Emma (Kapt. Brinckmann), picks everybody up and lands them safely in Cuxhaven. From there everybody was transported to Hamburg and from there sailed for Rotterdam on 23 December.

He is promoted to full captain in 1890.

The ss Edam (II) It is very strange but from this ship there are no known photos. Only two paintings.

Then in 1895 he loses his ship the Edam (II) after a collision with another ship the ss Turkistan (Anglo Arabian & Persian Steamship Company). Just before 1 am. In the morning of the 19th. of September while on the way from New York to Rotterdam with 40 crew and 45 passengers , sailing at slow speed in dense fog, the ship is hit by the ss Turkistan which suddenly shows up out of the fog. This was a bigger ship and was sailing in ballast (empty with extra weight to ensure enough stability)and she hit the ss Edam port aft near the engine room. Causing so much damage that the Edam sank, luckily without loss of life. The Turkistan then disappeared in the fog again. (b) Once all passengers were safely landed, they travelled to London and from there to London for the ferry to Vlissingen (Flushing) and from there to Rotterdam. These passengers were mainly emigrants who were returning home as their new country was not what they expected.  The crew was put up in a sailor’s home in Plymouth for the subsequent investigation and then transport home.

At a subsequent inquiry at the court of Arbitrage in London it was established that both ships were exchanging fog-sound signals but that the Turkistan was travelling too fast, did not try to go astern once the Edam was seen and did not hove to after the collision to offer help. Captain Bruinsma was fully in the clear; but a note in the company records indicate that the loss of his ship affected him for quite some time but that the company’s management was squarely behind him. Maybe two disasters in 5 years caused a considerable amount of distress.

From then on his career pattern follows the regular company tradition. Appointments to larger and larger ships based on seniority.  On 3 Aug. 1906, while in command of the ss Statendam (I) he receives the company medal for having made 100 successful crossings as a captain. He is then the 7th. Captain in the fleet to successively managing to do this.

He asked for retirement in 1911 as his health was giving in and passed away on 06 April in 1916 in Rotterdam at the age of 54

Leaving behind a wife and 3 children.  If he could have stayed the course until his compulsory retirement at 60 at 1921/1922, then he would have ended his career as the senior Master of the company and Commodore.

This picture was taken in 1895 when Captain Bruinsma came ashore in Plymouth after the sinking of the Edam. There are no other photos known of him in later years.

Career listing (d)

Bruinsma; Bote Gosse

Joined the Holland America Line as 3rd Officer 1885.

Date:                    Function:                            Ship:                                    Wages and/or remarks.

15 Jun. 1885      3rd officer                           P. Caland                            40,–

28 Jul.    1885      temporary dismissed due to over complete

13 Aug. 1885      3rd officer                           Leerdam                             40,–

23 Jun. 1886      act 2nd officer                    Leerdam                             60,–

14 Sep.  1886     with the Harwich boat to Liverpool, for the ss Rotterdam  (a)

14 Sep.  1886     2nd officer                         Rotterdam                         60,–

02 Feb.  1887      2nd officer                           Leerdam                             60,–

26 May. 1887     dismissed on own request for exam passes July 1887

04 Aug. 1887      2nd officer                           Rotterdam                         60,–

16 Apr. 1888      dismissed for exam

19 Jun. 1888      2nd officer                           Leerdam

02 Aug. 1888     Act. First officer                Leerdam                             100,— married

23 Oct.  1888     First officer                        Veendam                            100,–    (maiden voyage ship)

26 Jun.  1889     pay raised to 110,–

28 Aug. 1889      First officer                        Maasdam                           100,–

From new York per ss Germanic to Liverpool

10 Dec. 1889      Act. Captain                       Leerdam

16 Dec. 1889      Act. Captain                       Leerdam

Sunk after collision with ss   Gaw Quan Sia  with the ss Emma landed in Cuxhaven.

22 Dec. 1889      Back in Rotterdam

30 Dec. 1889      First officer                        Schiedam                            130,–

24 Feb. 1890      Act. Captain                       Schiedam

at Buenos Aires hand over of command

18 Apr. 1890       Captain                               Schiedam                            200,–    permanent

20 Jul.    1891      Captain                               Schiedam

removed from command and per ss Didam back to  Amsterdam

04 Aug. 1891      Captain                                 Edam

16 Nov. 1891     Temporary dismissed

28 Dec. 1891      Captain                                 Edam                                   200,–

20 Sep. 1895      Due to loss of Edam temp ashore

05 Nov. 1895     Captain                                   Caland                                 200,–

28 Jul.    1896      Captain                                Zaandam

03 Oct.  1896      Relieved of command at new York and leaves

with the ss Etruria from NY to Amsterdam to go to Edam

11 Oct. 1896      Captain                                 Edam                                   ex Rotterdam

19 Oct. 1898      Temporary dismissed and available

26 Oct. 1898      Captain                                 Werkendam

16 Feb. 1899      Temporary dismissed and available

24 Mar. 1899      Captain                                Werkendam

01 Jun. 1900      Appointed as Terreinchef loods rijnhaven. (Depot Master Cargo Shed at Rijnhaven)

10 Dec. 1900      Captain                                Amsterdam

07 May  1901      On standby

?? Aug.  1901      Captain                               Soestdijk                             200,–

01 Oct.  1901      On standby          due to illness

08 Apr.  1902      Captain                               Soestdijk                             200,–

28 Jul.    1903      Captain                               Sloterdijk                            200,–

14 Sep.  1903      Captain                               Soestdijk                             200,–

08 Apr.1904        Captain                               Amsterdam                        200,–

01 Feb.  1905      On standby

15 Feb.  1905      Captain                               Rotterdam

09 Jan.  1906      On standby

24 Jan.  1906      Captain                               Statendam                         200,–

12 Oct. 1907      Stayed behind in Boulogne Sur Mer due to illness

19 Oct. 1907       With the ss Rijndam to Rotterdam and put on standby

02 Apr. 1908      Captain                               Statendam                         200,–

25 Jun.  1908      Captain                               Rijndam                              200,–

08 sep.  1908      Captain                               Potsdam                             200,–

15 Sep.  1908      Captain                               Statendam                         200,–

13 Mar. 1909      Captain                               Potsdam                             200,–

26 Nov. 1909      Captain                               Statendam                         200,–

20 Jan.  1910      Captain                               Rijndam                200,–

02 Feb.  1910      Captain                               Potsdam                             200,–

01 Jan.  1911      Captain                               Potsdam                             350,–

07 Mar. 1911      Dismissed on request.

  • (a) E.A Kruidhof
  • (b)The Telegraph Sept. 1895.
  • (c) Stamboek 589 page 6 of personnel files of the HAL Archives as held by the Muncipal Archives in Rotterdam
  • (d)  Captain Alberts HAL voyage database denoting all the voyages of all Holland America Lines ships, with information obtained out of Mouvementboeken (Hal Archives), Dutch Newspapers, Passenger Lists and other ancillary information.