This article analyses four accounts of mutinies and wrecks of Dutch East India Company ships: those of the Nieuw Hoorn, Batavia, Blydorp and Nijenburg. These stories can be read as worst-case survival manuals, which support the Company’s discourse of discipline. They advise readers that the best option in the event of disaster is to obey the officers’ orders and the Company’s rules, linking this advice to moral and religious ideas of endurance and divine providence that were common in the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The accounts also link shipboard spatial protocols with proper social order. The stories present the Indies as a dangerous physical and moral testing ground, from which the ship provides a vital protective barrier, but only if the crew acts with disciplined solidarity and shows seamanlike virtues of cohesion and perseverance. Disorder among the crew, especially the breaching of spatial boundaries between officers and men, invites the dangers of the Indies to penetrate the safe space of the ship. Such breaches threaten all the boundaries on which the lives of the ship and crew depend: between the ship and the sea, between moral and immoral behaviour, and between Europeans and the non-European world. Where spatial boundaries break down, the stories show chaos and calamity following. Where the stories have ‘happy endings’, these are brought about by the re-establishment of proper spatial and social hierarchies.