Lucretia survived her assault, but the attack didn’t turn out the way Cornelisz expected. Lucretia was able to identify several of her attackers and Pelsaert, who was suffering from a serious illness, never punished anyone. It’s likely that at least a few of the conspirators would have been arrested, but fate intervened. In June, the Batavia was sailing off the coast of Australia through a chain of islands called the Houtman Abrolhos. The area was largely unexplored and the dangerous coral reefs were unmapped, making navigation treacherous. On June 4, the ship struck one of these reefs and began to break up.
The survivors of the crash hurried to the lifeboats, which ferried them to nearby Beacon Island along with all of the ship’s remaining freshwater. The officers quickly realized how bleak their position was. Beacon was over two thousand kilometers from the nearest Dutch settlement. More importantly, the island was completely barren, with little to eat and no freshwater. Pelsaert knew that without help, they had little chance of surviving. The only hope was to sail one of the small, open lifeboats to the East Indies and return with help.
The plan was desperate, but with no alternative, Pelsaert and a few of the ship’s officers set off- including Jacobsz- leaving Cornelisz as the senior officer among the survivors on their island. Cornelisz, with his natural charisma and his senior rank, quickly convinced the rest of the survivors to make him their leader. He then gathered a group of men willing to follow his commands and set them to removing anyone he thought was a threat to his rule. To Cornelisz, that meant anyone whom he thought was unlikely to obey him or even just people he thought of as “useless mouths.”
He began by sending a group of these people to another island- now called Seal Island- with the false promise that they would find a source of freshwater there. Once they landed, one of Cornelisz’s men in the boat sailed away, leaving them to die. Cornelisz then gathered a group of soldiers and confiscated their weapons before sending them off to the distant West Wallabi Islands. Over the next few days, he sent the other people he wished to dispose of out in boats with some of his men. Once out of sight of the other survivors, they were then pushed into the water and left to drown.
With control over every weapon on the island and the remaining food and water, Cornelisz had the literal power of life and death over those left. His plan was to reduce the population to around 45 people, allowing him to survive long enough to hijack a passing ship. At his command, the mutineers began to systematically murder the other survivors. With no one to stop them, they were free to indulge their worst impulses. Many of the remaining women were subjected to horrible sexual abuse and Cornelisz seized Lucretia Jans for himself. But if Cornelisz thought that he had removed every threat to his rule, he was wrong.