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Clipper Ships and Windjammers

Clipperships in San Francisco.

Clipper Ships and Windjammers

Details and Images of Clipper Ships
° A to D ° E to G ° H to N ° O to R ° S ° T to Z

Lists are incomplete; information is added as located and as time permits.

West Coast Clippers (Built in San Francisco)

Annals of San Francisco 1852: Clipper ships

The Deep Sea Derby, 1852

The Fleet of 1857

Clipper Ships at San Francisco: A to D

Clipper Ships at San Francisco
Andrew Jackson
Ann McKim
Anglo American
Antelope (Boston)
Antelope (New York)
Ariel and Taeping
Bald Eagle
Charles Mallory
Crescent Moon
Dashing Wave
David Crockett
Dawn Chase


December 4, 1857, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

The Clipper Ship Adelaide

In our late sketch of clipper ships in the port of San Francisco, want of space obliged us to omit the Adelaide, Capt. Edgar Wakeman, one of the pioneer shipmasters, whose connection with California dates back to 1850.

The ship is now at Clay street wharf, where we would recommend all nautical critics to visit her, previous to her departure for Elide Inland, on the coast of Lower California, for which place she clears today. The Adelaide is one of the best built ships that ever entered this port; measuring 1,800 tons, and costing $128,000. When it is considered that many eastern-built ships of equal tonnage are built at an expense of little over $75,000, the faithful style of her construction will be appreciated.

She is white oak built, and comes from the celebrated yard of Brown & Bell, of New York. She is 3,500 tons burden, and in this respect should be contrasted with many other clippers of a like measurement. For instance, theFlying Cloud, owned mainly by the same parties as the Adelaide, is also of 1,800 tons, and carries only that amount California measurement goods. Thus theAdelaide would earn in one voyage in freight an amount equal to that summed up by theCloud in two. Great as are her carrying capacities, this ship has yet to encounter her superior (so her proud commander confidently affirms) on the great ocean routes. She has made the quickest passage between New York and Cape Horn on record 42 days.

This is her third voyage to California. Her passages sum up as follows: First voyage, 110 days; second, 120 days; third, 124 days. Her best run is rather astonishing 300 miles in 16 hours, or 18 3-4 miles as hour for that length of time! This rather excels the celebrated time of the Sovereign of the Seas between New York and Liverpool, which has been called the fastest sailing in the world. It was, if we remember right, 18 miles an hour for 24 hours. In the above instance, the Adelaide was suddenly becalmed in the seventeenth hour, or the would have made the best day’s run ever recorded. The above distance and time are folly warranted by an examination of her log. Her dimensions are 235 feet length overall; 46 feet breadth beam; 30 feet depth hold. The Adelaidesails on Saturday, and will proceed from her port of destination to New York.


Madame Marietta Alboni.

Clipper ship designed and built by Mason C. Hill at Mystic, Connecticut. She was named after Madame Marietta Alboni (image right), the celebrated Italian singer, than at the height of her fame. The ship launched in October 1852 and was described an as exquisite specimen of shipbuilding. Her figurehead was the image of a dove with an orange branch in its beak. She was purchased shortly after being launched by James Bishop & Co., of New York. Reportedly for $55,000. While she was considered of good speed, she met unfavorable conditions during voyages. She left New York for San Francisco on November 21, 1852 and was 131 days in reaching San Francisco. Captain Littlefield, in command, reported 65 days to the Horn and 99 days to the equator in the Pacific. When 113 days out, she was within 300 miles of the Golden Gate, being close to the coast in a dense for for the final seven days. She sailed in and out of San Francisco through 1858, then engaged in trade between New York and Bremen. She was again sold and by 1874, her name does not appear in registers.

Andrew Jackson

The sailing ship Andrew Jackson, a 1,679-registered-ton medium clipper, was built by the firm of Irons & Grinnell in Mystic, Connecticut.

The Brower papers contain over a hundred letters, logs and ships papers relating to the Andrew Jackson. Most of these papers are letters written to Brower by John H. Williams and William S. Johnson, masters of the vessel, These relate the history of the vessel and the many problems of cargo, destinations and finances of her voyage. Many questions raised by the letters remain unanswered since Brower's answers to the letters were not preserved.

This thesis begins with a brief description of clipper ship evolution and is followed by discussion of the economic conditions leading up to the period of the Andrew Jackson. Most of this material is derived from secondary sources.

The Andrew Jackson was a well known ship of her times because of her extraordinary sailing prowess. She broke many speed records, including that from New York to San Francisco, New York to Liverpool, and, also from New York to Saint John, N.B. She was a consistently fast sailer and as such was a financial success for her owners.

The early history of the vessel is very sparse. John H. Williams was not a prolific letter writer, consequently little is known of the Andrew Jackson from her purchase in 1855 until 1868. During this time she made four trips to San Francisco and one to England. Six letters, an abstract log and a few other documents form the basis of this interval.

William S. Johnson was master of the Andrew Jackson from 1860 until her sale to British owners in 1864. Johnson wrote many long and detailed letters discussing all phases of the ship's operations. From these accounts one may learn considerable about the ship, her cargoes, the ports visited and the spirit of the times. These letters form the major primary source material from which this thesis was compiled.

The Andrew Jackson was sold by John H. Brower and Company in 1864 to a British company. The reasons for the sale were the uncertain profitability of mercantile trade, the risk of Confederate attack, and the advancing age of the vessel. A survey early in 1864 discussed extreme rotting in major structural members of the vessel. The decision was made to sell the vessel even though it was a buyer's market at the time. H. L. Seligmann purchased the Andrew Jackson and put her in the Far Eastern trade where she served until wrecked in the Gaspar Straits on December 4, 1868.

November 21, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco: Shipping Intelligence.
Arrived: November 30, Clipper ship Andrew Jackson, Williams, 126 days from New York. Mdse to D. L. Ross & Co.

Imports per clipper Andrew Jackson, Daily Alta California, November 21, 1855.

March 25, 1860, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

Shortest Passage on Record From New York. 
Arrival of the Clipper Ship Andrew Jackson.

The clipper ship Andrew Jackson, Capt Williams, from New York, arrived yesterday afternoon in the unprecedented time of eighty-nine days and seven hours, beating the quickest voyage of the clipper ship Flying Cloud, Capt. Creasy, six hours. The Flying Cloud made two voyages to this port which were never equaled until this one of the Andrew Jackson. Her first short passage was 89 days and 23 hours, and the second one in 89 days and 13 hours, and now the Andrew Jacksonbeats her shortest voyage some six hours. For several years past the conviction has been forcing itself on the minds of most of our nautical amateurs and connoisseurs, that, as the days of extreme clippers was passing away, the time of the world-renowned clipper ship Flying Cloud would never be beaten. We must say our mind was made up to this point, and now that her best time has been beaten, we confess our surprise and astonishment. The Andrew Jackson is not an extreme clipper, having been built with a view for carrying as well as sailing, but she has on previous occasions done herself credit, having made three voyages the first in 129 days, the second in 103 days, and the third in 102 days, and now in 89 days and a few hours.

Captain Williams left this port last June, having on board a California cargo, and after a fine run to New York, he laid there over four months, when he started on the return trip. During the voyage he has had a succession of light winds, carrying his sky-sails and studding sails almost the entire passage but as the ship sails well, good judgment and a sharp look-out for all the chances, brought the Andrew Jackson out in the first rank of the California fleet. She has anchored off North Point, and is consigned to Messrs. De Witt, Kittle & Co.

The Andrew Jackson was anchored in New Zealand in August 1865 with 273 passengers. Three deaths during the voyage: John Davis, aged 28 years; Stevah Turner, aged 16 years; and Edward White, aged 24 years.


The ship was built in London, probably by Green's, in 1852 for their London to Australia run. Here she flies their Green Blackwall line house flag at the main and is shown bound up-Channel off Dover. She also has a blue and white signal pennant at the mizzen, possibly in answer to a cutter yacht seen under her bows, which also flies the Green flag and a signal. There is a small British cross-Channel steamer under her stern apparently flying both the Union at the fore and French Tricoleur at the main.
(Text: Royal Museums Greenwich. Lithography, Thomas Goldsworth Dutton.)

Anglo American

Cleared New York 1851 for San Francisco. 705 tons.

Donald McKay's Anglo American.

Mckay Clipper, Anglo-American
Roy Cross.

In San Francisco August 8, 1851, Captain Murdock. 145 days from New York. Merchandise to Macondray & Co. 8 passengers.

August 18, 1851, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Anglo American -- Consignees by this ship are notified that she commences discharging this (Saturday) Morning, August 9, at Pacific Wharf.

Ann McKim

There are three principal claims put forward in favor of the Ann McKim as either the first clipper ship or the immediate ancestor of the clipper: the first is, that she was the earliest large vessel to combine a ship's rig and sail-expanse with the improved-upon and fined-down lines of a small, swift craft; the second, that the attention drawn to her after her appearance in the maritime world led to an attempt on the part of shipbuilders to improve the model and sailing qualities of ships; and the third, that John Willis Griffiths, impressed by her lines when he saw her undergoing repairs in an East River shipyard, drew from her his inspiration for the Rainbow.

Ann McKim was built on the lines of a Baltimore clipper, and is considered the first "true clipper," an honor she shares with Rainbow and Scottish Maid. She was built in 1833 at the shipyard of Kennard & Williamson, Baltimore for the wealthy sea-dog and merchant, Isaac McKim. Dimensions: 143' 27'6" 14' with a cargo carrying volume of 494 tons. She was launched in 1833 and delivered to Isaac McKim, Baltimore. The ship was named after the owner's wife and was the first large vessel built on practically the lines of the brigs and schooners then known throughout the shipping world as "Baltimore Clippers." She had a square stern and the heavy after-drag common to the Baltimore clippers, drawing as she did 17 feet aft and 11 feet forward; but her greatest fault lay in her small capacity for cargo, which made her something of a mere speed phenomenon. The finest materials, personally selected by Captain James Curtis, were used in her construction, running her entire cost to little short of fifty thousand dollars, nine thousand of which was spent for imported red copper for sheathing and fastenings throughout. Her frame was of live-oak, and the carving of her figurehead and stern was carried out with grace and beauty. On deck the gleaming brass- work of her bells and trimming was reflected in the polished Spanish mahogany of her rails, hatch coatings, and skylights. She mounted twelve brass guns guns being a feature of all merchant vessels in those days for protection against pirates and marauders in foreign waters. With her lower masts fitted into place, the standing rigging attached, and topgallant masts raised at the top and flag-bedecked, she was launched at 4:30 o'clock on the afternoon of June 4, 1833, and named in honor of the owner's wife. During the ensuing months the Ann McKim busied herself taking in a cargo of that particular brand of southern flour which does not sour on a trip across the Equator, and, having everything in readiness by the 30th of August made sail and set out, under the command of Captain Walker, for the first lap in the long voyage around the Horn, sailing for Callao, Peru to take advantage of a burgeoning market.

By 1837, she was sold to Howland & Aspinwall, New York, who sold her to Chile. She sailed between Valparaiso and San Francisco, in 1849 and 1850. Her first arrival in San Francisco was January 20, 1849.

Sold to Chile.

January 30, 1850, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

Vessels Advertised

FOR SALE: The fine, clipper-built Chilean vessel called the Ann McKim, measuring 500 tons, favorably known in this port, newly coppered, and her hull copper fastened to the gunwale, the frame of live oak and locust, and everything in good condition, with inventory complete. The vessel performed the passage from Valparaiso in 43 days. For particulars see the consignees.


February 5, 1850, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Wholesale Prices Current

Notice is hereby given to the consignees of cargo on the Chilean ship Ann McKim, Captain James Van Pelt, that the vessel is ready to discharge her cargo, and that her lay days expire on the 6th February. Goods on board for Messrs Salas, Bascunan, Fehrman & Co., Sanchez Brothers, Tagerschmidt, Julien & Co., Scott & Co., Mr. M. Valdes, D. J. Argues, M. G. Gonzales, N. Charpin, J. D. Goni. Apply to the consignees. 


June 25, 1850, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

PORT OF VALPARAISO. Arrived, April 16, Chilean ship Ann McKim, Pelt, 47 days from San Francisco.

August 23, 1851, Daily Alta California, San Francsico

By Gower & Poulterer
Auction and Commission Merchants

Ship Ann McKim

On Tuesday, August 27, at 10 o'clock at sales rooms - The fast-sailing Baltimore ship Ann McKim, copppered and heavily copper-fastened, originally built and most admirably adapted for the China trade. For inventory and further particulars apply at our store.

In September 1851, under Captain Van Pelt, she left North American waters and is reported to have been dismantled at Valparaiso the following year.

Antelope (Boston)

November 29, 1851, Boston Daily Atlas, Boston Massachusetts.

The New Ship Antelope, of Boston.

This is a fine vessel, of about 500 tons cargo carrying volume, admirably adapted to any trade suitable for her size: She is of large capacity, compared with her register, but is at the same time of an excellent model for sailing. Her ends are clipperly in their form, and her water-lines slightly concave; and, although she has only 8 inches dead rise at half floor, yet, as her stem is almost upright, her floor long, and her keel deep, she is expected to hold as good a wind as most of the sharp-bottomed clippers of the same register. The design of her model was to combine large stowage capacity with good sailing qualities. She is 125 feet long on the keel, 131 on deck, between perpendiculars, and 140 over all. Her extreme breadth of beam is 29 feet, depth 19 feet, including 7 feet height of between decks, sheer two feet, and swell or rounding of sides 6 inches. She has a narrow waist, defined between the moldings of the upper wale and the planksheer, and the latter is carried out to the extreme, and forms the lower outline of the headboards. The molding of the upper wale blends with the navel hoods, and is continued along the trail boards, to the extremes.

Her head is a carved and gilded billet, which grows out of the ornamental work upon the trail boards. The stern is light and graceful, and the run clean and easy. Instead of stern windows she has four circular plate glass air ports, and over these an arch of carved work, in the apex of which is the bust of an antelope. Her name and port of hail are carved into the arch board and painted white. She is painted black outside, from the water to the rail, and dark buff color, with blue waterways, inside. She has a small topgallant forecastle. and abaft the foremast a house 30 feet long, 12 wide and 6 high, which contains the galley, quarters for the crew and other useful apartments. Her cabin is under a half poop deck, with a house in front, which contains two state-rooms and the pantry. The cabin contains four staterooms, a water closet and a bread locker, and is most beautifully paneled with satin and zebra woods, set off with rose wood pilasters. There are deck and side lights in the staterooms, and over the cabin a large oblong square skylight. In light, ventilation, and furniture, the cabin is a neat and perfect as the space would admit.

Her frame is of white oak, most of her planking and ceiling of yellow pine, and she is square fastened throughout. The keel is of rock maple, sided 13 and moulded about 17 inches; the floor timbers are 11 by 14, and she has two depths of keelsons, each 15 inches square. The floor timbers are bolted through the keel with 1 inch copper, and the navel timbers through the upper keelson, down blunt into the keel with iron of the same size. The ceiling on the floor is 3 : inches thick, and over the floor heads there are two strakes of 7 inches thickness, above these two of 6, and the rest of the ceiling is of 5 inches. The between decks waterways are 14 inches square, and over them are two strakes, each of 8 by 12 inches, and inside of them, let into the beams, a strake of the same substance. This thick work is bolted vertically and horizontally in the most substantial style. The ceiling above the thick work is 5 inches thick. The upper deck waterways are 12 by 8 inches, with a thick strake inside of them, let into the beams and cross-bolted. Her lower deck beams are 13 by 14 inches, and those under the upper deck 8 by 14. The hanging and lodging knees in the hold are of oak, and those in the between-decks of hackmatack, and all are well fitted and securely bolted. Her cutwater, stem, apron, and dead-wood -- also her sternpost and falsepost, are all of superior white oak, bolted with copper up to the load displacement line, and above there with iron. The main transom is 14 by 16 inches, and the others in proportion; and her wing transoms extend well along the sides, and are closely bolted. She has 6 hooks forward and 5 aft, which span the angles of her ends completely. Her hold stanchions are of oak, kneed in the wake of the hatchways, and elsewhere strapped with iron and bolted above and below. The stanchions is the between decks are also of oak turned, secured with rods through their centres in the unusual style. The planking of the between decks is of hard pine 3 inches thick, and that of the upper deck clear white pine, of the same substance.

The planking at her bottom is 3 inches thick, her wales 5 by 7 inches, and the waist 3 inches thick. Outside she is square fastened with treenails; and her bilge and butt bolts been driven with the greatest care. Her sides are smooth and beautifully finished. Her planksheer and main rail are each 5 inches thick; her bulwark stanchions are 8 by 6 inches, and her bulwarks are of 2 inches, tastefully tongued, grooved and molded. The bulwarks are 3 feet 10 inches high, surmounted by a monkey rail of 12 inches, which extends the whole length of the vessel. Her frame is seasoned with salt; she has air ports below, brass ventilators along the line of her planksheer and in her bitts, and Emerson's patent ventilators forward and aft.

She has a good patent windlass, a beautiful mahogany capstan, brass mounted, two pumps, a patent steering apparatus, and three substantial boats, two of which stow on a gallows frame over the quarter deck. In ground tackle and every other detail of ship's furniture, she is most liberally found.

She is a full rigged ship, has a noble set of spars, well proportioned and handsomely finished. Messrs. Blanchard & Caldwell made her spars, and she was rigged by Messrs. Carnes & Chessman. Her ornamental work, which is infinitely superior to most of the stuff now in vogue, was executed by Messrs. Gleason & Sons.

She was built at Medford by Mr. J.O. Curtis, and is owned by Wm. Lincoln, Esq., and Capt. Tully Crosby, who commands her, and under whose superintendence she was built and equipped. Capt. Crosby is well known as one of our most experienced and successful shipmasters. He has now a good beautiful ship, and one that must daily fast and work like a pilot boat. Good luck to him and her. She is now loading for New Orleans, at Constitution wharf, and after performing a coasting voyage, will be put in the Cuba trade, for which she was originally designed.

May 22, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco
The beautiful clipper Antelope, which unfortunately went ashore on Romer Shoal in entering New York harbor, while in charge of a pilot, on her return from her first voyage to China, has been taken on the Sectional Dock and thoroughly repaired. Her superior strength saved her from the smallest strain, and she is now as good as new. She would commence loading on the 21st April for San Francisco in Mr. John Ogden's Pioneer Line.

Antelope (New York)

Extreme clipper ship built by Perine, Patterson & Stack, at Williamsburg, Long Island in 1852. Launched March 27. 187x37x21: 4; 1186 tons (old measurement); 1055 tons (new measurement) Owned by Henry Harbeck & Co. of New York. Her first two voyages were round-trip New York-San Francisco under Captain Shinn with 149 days out/112 return and 115 days out/129 return. The third voyage in 1854-55 was under Captain Mooers, and was 135 days out, the return being by way of Shanghai and Manila. On her fourth voyage, her speed n the Cape Horn run from Eastern ports to San Francisco put her into line with the fast passages made by the Flying Cloud, but she still had to contend with bad weather. By 1870, she appeared on registers as the British ship Antelope of Cape Town owned by W. H. Leland.

Ariel and Taeping

Ariel and Taeping.

The clipper Ariel with the Taeping and the Serica sailed an unofficial race in the China tea trade from China to London in 1866. Fierce competition existed year round to be the vessel first back to London with the new shipment of tea; extra incentives were added in 1866, when heavy bets were made in England on the winner.

Tea clipper races had become a tradition in the tea trade between Britain and China. The winning vessel was awarded an extra pound sterling for every ton of freight delivered, and the captain of the winning tea clipper was given a percentage of the ship's earnings.

London Daily Telegraph, September 12, 1866, London, England

Leaving China at the same time, the Fiery Cross, the Ariel, the Taeping and the Serica sailed almost neck-and-neck the whole way, and finally arrived in the London docks within two minutes of each other. A struggle more closely contested or more marvellous in some of its aspects has probably never before been witnessed. The Taeping, which won, arrived on the Lizard at literally the same hour as the Ariel, her nearest rival, and then dashed up the Channel, the two ships abreast of each other. During the entire day they gallantly ran side by side, carried on by a strong westerly wind, every stitch of canvas set, and the sea sweeping their decks as they careered before the gale.

Montague Dawson, the painter of Ariel and Taeping (above), was the son of a keen yachtsman and the grandson of the marine painter Henry Dawson (1811 1878). Dawson was born in Chiswick, London in 1895. Much of his childhood was spent on Southampton Water where he was able to indulge his interest in the study of ships. For a brief period around 1910 Dawson worked for a commercial art studio in Bedford Row, London, but with the outbreak of the First World War he joined the Royal Navy. While serving with the Navy in Falmouth he met Charles Napier Hemy (1841 1917), who considerably influenced his work. In 1924 Dawson was the official artist for an Expedition to the South Seas by the steam yacht St. George. During the expedition he provided illustrated reports to the Graphic magazine.

Bald Eagle

Boston Atlas, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.


On the keel Bald Eagle is 195 feet long, between perpendiculars on deck 215, and overall 225; her extreme breadth of beam is 41 1/2 feet, and depth 22 1/2, including 8 feet height of between decks. In model she differs widely from any clipper which we have inspected. The rise and from of her floor are designed to obtain the greatest possible buoyancy consistent with stability and weatherly qualities. Her lines, too, have been formed upon the principle that when sailing by the wind, the pressure aloft will incline her, and to overcome the consequent angular resistance, is one of the elements of her model. But whether sailing, inclined to the plane of the horizon, or at right angles to it, her lines have been calculated for both, so that she is expected to float more buoyantly and pass more easily through the water than any other clipper that has yet to be built. At the load displacement line, she is sharper than any other clipper, and her lines, for twenty feet from the cutwater, are almost straight, but aft they swell into the convex, and blend beautifully with her fullness amidships. Her greatest breadth of beam is at the centre of her loadline, and her lines aft are decidedly convex. She is fuller aft than forward, upon the principle that, when passing rapidly through the water, as it closes aft, will actually force her ahead, and leave her without a ripple. Her model above is also designed with special reference to overcoming atmospheric pressure; hence she has little if any flare to the bow (which is angular in its outline to the rail), low bulwarks, and a flush deck. Her bow is long, very sharp, and rises grandly in its sheer; and the cutwater is just inclined enough to make her a perfect picture forward. She has a large gilded eagle on the wing, for a head, and it forms the best and most beautiful head that we have yet seen upon any clipper. The ends of her catheads are ornamented with gilded carved work; otherwise she is smack-smooth forward. She has about three feet sheer, and sufficient swell or rounding of sides, to preserve the harmony of her lines, and she rises forward and aft with such easy grace, that even on the line of the planksheer, the eye cannot detect any wavering in its sweep. Her stern is slightly elliptical, inclined aft, and is formed from the line of the planksheer, the moulding of which and the strake below, form its base. It is very light, beautiful in outline and tastefully ornamented.

February 24, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Shipping Intelligence: Port San Francisco, February 24, 1855

Arrived: Feb. 23 Clipper ship Bald Eagle, Caldwell, 115 days from New York. Mdse to Geo. Upton & co.

Clipper Ship Bald Eagle.

Memoranda: Per Bald Eagle: Was 57 days to Cape Horn; was off the Cape 11 days in fine weather; crossed the Equator Jan 23d, long 110 03; since then has had no trade winds; had nothing but light winds and calms up to the 19th inst; experienced a heavy gale from NW; have been off the port for the last 3 days. December 24th, lat 54 33, long 65 12 W, spoke ship Cumberland of Portland, destination unknown. Same time spoke Susan Fitzgerald, from Baltimore, for Valparaiso. December 25th, lat 55 S, long 65 15 W., spoke ship Alfred, of Liverpool, for Callao. 18th Feb. lat 34 22 N. Long 131 08 W., spoke ship Hussar, from New York, for San Francisco. Same day saw a ship supposed to be the Phantom.

Capt Treadwell has seen during the passage 42 sail of vessels, something very unusual in a clipper ship sailing for this port.


Arrived October 8, 1853, Captain Henry, 133 days from Bordeaux. To P. Maury & Co.

October 24, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

The French Clipper Benjamin

By invitation, a large party of ladies and gentlemen met yesterday afternoon, to partake of a fine lunch on board the French Clipper Benjamin, lying at Jackson street wharf. The vessel is an object of admiration to all who see her. Though not very large, only 800 tons burthen, and though her spars are not so long proportionately as those of the American clippers, yet she is in some very important respects unsurpassed by any vessel which has entered our port. She is oak-built, and finished with a high regard to strength, durability, and neatness. She made the voyage from Bordeaux in 136 days, during 40 of which she lay becalmed.


December 12, 1849, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Maritime History of Boston.

Blossom Rock -- The large clipper-built ship Boston, from New York, arrived in the harbor Wednesday afternoon, but in consequence of the dense fog came to anchor near Washerwoman's Bay, and was detained thirty-eight hours. The Harbor Master, Capt. King, visited her yesterday morning, but as the thick weather continued, could obtain no bearings by which to effect her removal from this dangerous vicinity.

Blossom Rock is the only truly serious obstacle to the navigator in this harbor, and as measures were some time since adopted by our authorities or its buoying, we can only account for its present existence as a terror to the shipmaster, in the failure of those with whom the matter rests to carry into execution these measures. It should be done at once, and effectually done, for already we have had marine disasters, occurring either through fear or ignorance of this rock, sufficient to injure the reputation of much better harbors than the excellent harbor of San Francisco.

An organized Board of Pilots would materially relieve the difficulty and danger to which inexperienced shipmasters are frequently subjected in entering this harbor during the rainy season.


June 24, 1852, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Editor's Note: Although the Brutus is referred to as a clipper ship in the following ad, additional information has not been located about her builder or her fate. She does not appear in the lists of noted clipperships.

Ad for the Clipper Ship Brutus, 1852.


Thursday Morning, July 3, 1851, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Clipper Ship Challenge, New York.

A magnificent clipper ship called the Challenge was launched in New York on the 24th of May. She is built by Mr. Webb for Messrs. Griswold, and is intended for the California and China trade. She is said to be the largest and sharpest merchant vessel ever built.

Cleared New York for California between January-December 1851

June 15, 1851, Boston Daily Atlas, Boston Massachusetts

. . . The Challenge, therefore, is the embodiment of her builder's idea of the perfect in naval architecture, and his reputation is thus practically pledged for her success. That nothing might be wanting on the part of the owners, they obtained the services of the first of sailors to command her.

Captain Robt. H. Waterman, whose name is associated with the shortest passages on record from China, superintended her construction and equipment, and to his skill as a sailor, without trenching upon the province of the builder, may be attributed her completeness aloft.

With a commander of such undoubted skill and daring, all that the Challenge can do she will be made to do. She is 224 feet long on the keel, 240 feet 6 inches on deck, between perpendiculars, and 252 feet 6 inches from the chock over the bowsprit to the taffrail, and is the longest sailing ship in the world. She is 27 feet 7 inches longer between perpendiculars than the Pennsylvania line-of-battle-ship. The Challenge's extreme breadth of beam, which is forward of the centre, is 43 feet, breadth at the gunwales 41 feet; depth 25 feet, including 7 feet 8 inches between each of her decks -- for she has three decks -- and she will register about two thousand tons. The angle of her bow, at the load displacement line, is 15, and of her stern 17 degrees. Her estimated load line is at 20 feet draught; and her lines are concave forward and aft. A chord of 40 feet, drawn from the stem to the turn of the bow, shows the greatest concavity or hollow of the bow, at the load line, to be 6 inches, and her run, from a chord of 20 feet in length, to be 7 inches. Below, of course, the lines are more concave, but along her sides they are boldly convex.

Launch of the Challenge, New York.

There is not, strictly speaking, a straight line in her model. She has 42 inches dead rise at half-floor, 12 inches rounding of sides, and 3 feet sheer. Her sternpost is upright, and the whole inclination or rake of her stem on deck, is about 12 feet. The angles of her ends, and the rise of her floor show that she is the sharpest, as well as the longest sailing vessel in the world. Her sheer is not sudden or marked by any peculiarity, but is truly graduated along her whole length, presenting an outline of perfect beauty.

Her bow rises nobly, and although its lines are concave below, yet as they ascend they become gently modified, still preserving their angular form; and, on the rail, blend in perfect harmony with her general outline. A gilded eagle, represented on the wing, and an eye on each cat-head, are her only ornaments forward. The bow is plain to nudity, compared with other ships, but beautiful beyond the power of words to describe. It has neither head nor trail-boards, nor even chocks around the hawseholes, nor is it lumbered with rigging. The head stays lead through the bows, and set up inboard; the bowsprit shrouds and bobstay, are therefore the only standing rigging secured to the bow, and these all set up to the bowsprit.

She has a narrow waist, defined between the mouldings of the upper wale and the planksheer. The moulding along the wale is gilded and extends from the talons of the eagle round the stern. Her stern is elliptical, and slightly inclined aft, but is formed close to the rudder-case. Its outline at the moulding of the wale is apparently semi-circular, but as it rises it becomes clearly elliptical, to correspond with her outline on the rail. Above the line of the planksheer it is ornamented with gilded branches, conspicuous among which are the arms of the United States, in bas-relief. Her name and port of hail -- Challenge, New York -- in gilded letters, are below. The upper wale is continued round the stern, and the planking of the run s carried up to it. She is sheathed with yellow metal up to 20 feet forward and to 21 feet aft, and except the ornamental work, she is painted black up to the rail. Her sides are smooth as cabinet work and every line and moulding is graduated to correspond with her sheer. End or broadside on, her appearance is truly beautiful; if cast in a mould she could not have been more perfect to the eye.

Her deck room is spacious and admirably arranged for working ship. The whole height of her bulwarks, including the monkey rail, is only 4 feet, and inside they are paneled and painted white, and the waterways green. Their stanchions are of locust, bright on the outer square, and the rack rail, which is of oak, is also bright, and extends from the topgallant forecastle to the poop. Her topgallant forecastle is the height of the main rail -- has a capstan on it, and extends aft to the windlass. From the windlass to the poop her deck amidships may be briefly described as follows:

. . . Her half poop is only 20 feet long, and has a skylight on it, amidships. Except the spanker sheets, vangs and signal halyards, all her running rigging leads on the same deck, so that, in working ship, there will be no running up or down stairs. All the hatchways, except the main, have raised covers, with glass in the sides, which renders the deck below light, and if open, airy.

The frames of the hatchways, the mast partners on deck and the fife rails around the masts, are all of East India teak, and the combings of the hatchways, and gangway boards are of mahogany. The corners of the bitts are inlaid with brass, and her captains have brass heads and composition pauls. Her windlass is strongly secured, and is of the latest patent, having ends which can be ungeared from the body.

Before the foremast is a double lever winch, for hauling the chain cable up, or for any other heavy work. Her chain lockers are abaft the foremast, on the lower deck, and the pipes through which the chains pass are covered by the fore part of the galley. She has three anchors, the total weight of which is 13,378 lbs., besides a stream anchor and chain. Her cables are each 120 fathoms in length, one of inch and seven-eighths, and the other of two inches, and in each bow she has two hawse holes. Her ground tackle and the details connected therewith, have been made to surpass the strictest requirements of Lloyd's.

She has five boats . . . all built of white oak and cedar; are copper fastened, have brass rowlocks, and are furnished with sails, awnings, water breakers, &c. Her pumps are of copper, have 8 inch chambers, and work with engine breaks, and throw their water on the upper deck . . . Opposite the fore and main rigging on each side, she has powerful lever winches, secured to massive bitts, which extend through the deck below, and are secured there. These are well clear of the sides, leaving ample space for the men to work around them. The decks are of white pine, the planking uniform in width, and clear of knots or flaws.

Of all the vessels which we have seen, not even excepting ships of war, we do not recollect one whose deck room for working ship is so spacious and well arranged as that of the Challenge. Her appearance on deck, as well as outside, is not surpassed in beauty by any vessel afloat. The accommodations for her crew are forward on the main deck, and are fitted with berths for fifty men. The forecastle has four plate glass air ports, and is otherwise well lighted and ventilated.

She has two cabins, the first under the poop, with two doors in front, one on each side of the wheel. It is fitted for the accommodation of her officers, and forms an ante-room to the great cabin below. In the upper cabin her tiller traverses close to the beams, and her steering apparatus consists of a gun tackle purchase, on each side, brought to a roller on the end of the shaft which passes through the heart of the wheel outside. The great cabin contains six staterooms, &c., and is wainscotted with oak and rosewood, set off with elliptically arched panels, relieved with oak pillared pilasters, and enamelled cornices, ornamented with exquisite carving. The corners of the beams are also fringed with beautiful carving, and edged with gold. The transom forms a semi-circular sofa, and forward there is another sofa, both covered with rich green and gold brocaded. In the forward partition is a splendid mirror, which gives a reflected view of the cabin abaft it.

In every stateroom there is a deck and side light, and the cabin furniture throughout is in perfect keeping with her other appointments. The pantry is before the cabin, and alongside of it is a door which leads into the main deck. She has two iron tanks, one the whole depth of the vessel, and capable of containing 6000 gallons of water, and the other 2000. The main deck has three large cargo ports in each side, which will greatly facilitate she shipment and discharge of cargo. These have iron gratings inside, and regular ports outside, like a ship of war. This deck has also plate glass air ports, and all the other means of light and ventilation now in use on board of passenger ships. The paint-work of this deck in white, and the waterways blue; and the hanging knees, stanchions, the lower squares of the beams, carlines and ledges, are bright and varnished.

The waterways of the lower deck are painted lead color, and in the other details it is nearly the same as the main deck, excepting, of course, the side-lights, &c. Although designed for the California and China trade, yet the arrangements of her decks are as admirably designed for the accommodating of passengers, as those of a fine class European packet. These details will give some idea of the ship's outline, her accommodations, &c. We will now endeavour to give the leading particulars of her construction.

Her keel is of white oak, in two depths, bolted together with copper, and sided 16 and moulded 38 inches. The floor timbers are sided from 12 to 14 inches, and moulded 17 , and every one is bolted through the keel with 1 7/8 inch copper. Her first keelson is bolted with iron through the timbers, down into the first depth of the keel, and the second keelson in equally well secured. Fifty feet of her keelsons forward, and sixty feet aft, are of live oak; the other parts are of hard pine. From the top of the keelson to the base of the keel is 8 feet; The stem is of white oak, all in one piece, sided 16 inches at the heel, and 18 at the head, and moulded from 3 to 2 . The apron is sided 34 inches, and moulded to correspond with the form of the bow. Both stem and apron are closely bolted with copper up to 24 feet, and above there with iron.

The stern-post is sided the same as the stern, and moulded in like proportion; and the false post, stern knees, &c., are bolted in the most substantial style. All the frames forward of the foremast, all abaft the mizzenmast, all the top-timbers, and all the fourth futtocks amidships, and the dead-wood forward and aft, are of live oak. The frames are bolted together with 1 inch iron, and are made of uniform substance, dressed fair and smooth on all sides, and are braced diagonally with iron 4 inches wide, and of an inch thick. These braces are 4 feet apart, and extend from the floor-heads to the gunwales, are riveted together at every intersection, bolted through every timber, and form a complete network of iron, which binds the frame beyond the power of working.

She is the first sailing vessel ever built in this country which has been braced with iron. The ceiling on the floor is 4 inches thick, and on the bilge commencing with 8 inches, which is graduated to 7 inches. Her lower deck clamps are also 8 inches thick, and all her thick work extends forward and aft, and is square bolted. Her beams are of hard pine, those under the lower deck sided from 15 to 17 inches, and moulded 14; the main deck beams are nearly the same, and the upper deck beams 2 inches smaller.

The hold stanchions are kneed to the beams above and to the keelson below. She has three breast-hooks, of white oak, in the hold, but all her deck hooks are of live oak. The hanging knees under the beams of all decks are of white oak, sided in the body of the vessel from 10 to 12 inches, and moulded from 22 to 28 inches in the throats. Of course, towards the ends, the knees are diminished in size, for in every detail it has been the object of the builder to make the parts in correct proportions. A beam 15 feet long does not require as stout a knee to brace it to the side, as one double the length. The knees have from 16 to 18 bolts, driven from the outside and clinched on the inside. The waterways of the lower and main decks are 15 inches square, the strake inside of them 8 inches thick, and that over them 10 by 12 inches, all closely cross bolted. The clamps under the main deck are 7 inches thick, the ceiling below 6 inches, and the clamps and ceiling under the upper deck one inch less, but all square fastened. The stanchions in both decks are of locust turned, and are secured with iron rods through their centres, which bind all the decks together.

There are twenty-eight beams under the main deck, and a corresponding number in proportion to her length, under the other decks, and these have all hanging and lodging knees of white oak, well finished and strongly fastened. The upper deck waterways are 11 by 12 inches, cross bolted, and all her decks are of clear white pine, 3 inches thick. Her garboards are 8 inches thick, bolted with copper both through the timbers and the keel, and the strake outside of them is 6 inches, also copper bolted. The planking outside of these is 4 inches, and on the bilge 4 , which increases to 5, the substance of the wales. Her waist is of 4 inches; the planksheer or covering board 5 inches, and the main rail 6 inches, which is strengthened by an oak rack rail, already noticed; and her bulwark boarding is neatly tongued and grooved, and finished in the first style of workmanship. All the outside above the garboards, which are bolted, is square fastened with copper spikes; and is also copper butt and bilge bolted, up to 24 feet draught.

Her treenails are of choice locust, driven through and wedged in both ends. her planking, ceiling and deck frames are all of selected hard pine. The details of her fastening and construction show her to be of excellent materials, well built, and neatly finished. In ventilation, she has all the improvements of the day. Five of Emerson's patent ventilators are ranged along her decks, and communicate with the hold, and every deck below. In addition to these she has air ports in her ceiling, and brass ventilators along her planksheer, and in the ceiling of her bow, under the topgallant forecastle.

Her bowsprit is 30 inches in diameter and 30 feet outboard; jib boom 17 inches in diameter, and is divided at 20 feet for the standing-jib, and 15 for the flying jib, with 5 feet end; jib-a-jib boom 13 feet with 3 feet end; spanker-boom 13 inches in diameter, 60 feet long, including 3 feet 2 inches end; spanker-gaff 9 inches in diameter, and 40 feet long, including 6 feet end; ringtail boom 30 feet long, or 20 feet outboard; swinging booms 12 inches in diameter, and 60 feet long, and the other spars in proportion. Her lower masts are made, fished on every square and filled in under the hoops, and her tops, like those of a ship of war, are solid, and fit close to the eyes of the lower rigging. The fore-top, in the wake of the after shrouds of the topmast rigging, is 16 wide, the main 17, and the mizzen 13 . Her lower masts are painted black, her tops are bright, and also all above the doublings of the lower masts.

The extremes of her mast-heads are ornamented with gilded balls; and all her yards are black. The standing rigging is of Russia hemp, four stranded patent rope, without a heart, equal in size to that of a first class frigate, -- and is wormed and served over the ends and eyes with marling. The lower rigging sets up through lignum vit dead eyes, with lanyards which are also wormed, and the topmast rigging and stays on their ends. Her fore stays set up to the knight heads, entirely clear of the bowsprit, so that if the latter should be carried away, the foremast would not be affected by the loss.

Her topmast stays, fore topgallant and jib stays pass through the bows and set up in-board, which leaves her bow outside uncommonly clear, and if possible adds to its beauty, besides possessing the great advantage of being set up in any weather, without exposure to the men. As the bowsprit is very short, and strongly secured between the knight-heads, it is not lumbered with rigging. It has only one bobstay and a single pair of shrouds, which are enough, considering that the foremast is not dependent upon it, and that her jib-boom is also very short.

The bowsprit shrouds and bobstay, also the martingale guys and stays, are all of chain. Her main stays set up to a massive pair of bitts before the foremast, and not to the windlass paul-bitt. This arrangement, aside from the manifest advantages in point of strength and snugness, leaves a clear forecastle for handling studdingsails, or performing and other work which may require the full scope of the deck. Her maintopmast and top-gallant stays lead into the fore-top, man-of-war style; and the mizzentopmast and top-gallant stays into the main top. When carrying a press of sail by the wind, she will have topmast and topgallant breast-backstays. These however, will be shifting, not stationary like those in ships of war. Her fore and main yards are scarphed in the bunts, as single spars of sufficient length and strength could not be procured.

The slings of her lower yards are secured abaft the heels of the topmasts, to the lower mast-heads, and the yards have iron trusses of the most approved patent. She has chain topsail sheets, and double chain ties, with gins on the yards, and halyards on both sides. The other details of her rigging correspond in strength and neatness with those already enumerated. A glance at the dimensions of her spars will show that she spreads a vast surface of canvas. With lower studding sails set on both sides, the distance across from the outer leach of one studding sail to that of the other will be over 160 feet.

A single suit of her sails contains 12,780 yards of canvass -- of course this includes studding sails, &c. The material of her sails is Colt's cotton duck, made to order, 16 inches wide. The drop of her mainsail in the bunt is 47 feet 3 inches, and on the leach 49 feet 6 inches; its length on the foot is 100 feet, and it is made of 1273 yards of canvass. Her sails are so cut that their leaches form a continuous line from the head earings of the skysails to the clews of the courses.

Her running rigging is of selected Manila hemp, hand spun, and her blocks and every other detail are designed for strength and hard service, but are at the same time neatly finished. Her appearance aloft is truly grand. Notwithstanding the vast length of her masts and yards, they are so substantial, and correctly proportioned, and the rigging which supports them, so neat and snug, that the eye wanders in vain above her rail, to detect an unseamanlike detail.

Challenge Leaving New York. Roy Cross, artist.

Challenge, Leaving New York
Roy Cross

October 30, 1851, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California ARRIVAL OF THE CHALLENGE -- This splendid clipper ship, commanded by Capt. Waterman, whose arrival has been so impatiently awaited at this port, arrived this day at 1 p.m. She has experienced light winds on her passage, and off Cape Horn had heavy gales of twelve days duration. She has also experienced an unusual mortality, ten men having died on board since she left New York. A few days before her arrival a difficulty occurred on board between the mate and some of the sailors, the mate having been stabbed. The Challenge is the largest ship that has ever visited this port. She measures 2100 tons, is 240 feet in length, 43 feet 6 inches breadth of beam, 25 feet 6 inches depth of beam, and has a flush deck with the exception of a small poop cabin. Her manifest is 28 feet in length.

May 1, 1852, Daily Alta Calfornia, San Francisco

The Great Passage of the Clipper Ship Challenge

This magnificent ship, commanded by Capt. John Land, arrived in our harbor from China early yesterday morning, after the extraordinarily short passage of thirty-three days. She sailed from Hongkong on the 19th of March, and left the coast of Japan on the 5th of April, having thus made the run from the latter country in seventeen days. The greatest distance ran by log in twenty-four hours was 360 knots; and the greatest progress made in a direct line, 335 knots. The highest speed attained was 16 knots per hour. The average log of the whole passage was 10 knots; and the average on a straight line, 9 knots per hoar. Whilst in the China Sea she made the distance between two islands, which were forty-two miles apart, in two hours and a quarter. She is in ballast, and brings 553 Chinese emigrants, all in good health, not a death having occurred on the passage. In every point of view this is one of the most wonderful and successful passages on record, and we congratulate Captain Land upon the additional fame' which his seamanship will confer upon the American commercial marine.


April 13, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Clipper ship Channing, Johnson, 138 days from New York. Mdse to Harmony & Co.

Charles Mallory

The Charles Mallory was a medium clipper ship built in 1851 by Charles Mallory at Mystic, Connecticut, and owned by the builders. 155 x 33 x 18 feet; 698 tons register; dead weight capacity, 1000 tons. Had good lines and during her short existence showed up as a fast sailer. Under Capt. Charles Hull she left New York on her first voyage on September 15, 1852 and arrived at San Francisco January 8, 1853, a passage of 115 days. She had poor luck in the North Atlantic being 33 days from Sandy Hook to the line. Sailing from San Francisco January 27, 1853, she went to Honolulu in ballast, then sailed to New London, Connecticut. When 65 days out, she ran ashore on Cape St. Augustine, Brazil. At the end of July 1853, she was reported as lying in a bad position and probably would soon break up. Captain Hull was then reported as being very sick.
(American Clipper Ships, 1833-1858, Octavius T. Howe )

January 23, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco


Smith et al., vs. ship Charles Mallory - Argued and submitted.

March 16, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

One Week Later from Sandwich Islands

The ships Charles Mallory, R. B. Forbes, Syren, Eliza Warwick, Dragon, Stephen Lurnam and barque Isabellita Heyne, hence, had touched or ariived at Honolulu. The news is not of particular moment . . . The clipper Charles Mallory, hence, at Honolulu, was reported in quarantine, with small box on board.

May 16, 1884, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Along The Wharves

Advices from New York state that the estate of the late Charles Mallory, of the well-known shipping house of C. H. Mallory & Co., for some time in litigation, is about being amicably settled. It is stated that the steamer property known as the Mallory Line, running between New York, Fernandina, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico ports, will pass into the hands of the Erie Railroad corporation. The sailing craft have already been sold.


Medium clipper ship, launched October 28, 1854 from the yard of George W. Jackman, at Newburyport, Mass. 203 overall x 37 beam x 23:3 depth of hold; 1055 tons, old measurement, and 1024, new measurement. Dead rise, 12 inches; sheer 3-1/2 feet. Her figurehead was described by the reporter who attended her launch as that of a snake with the tongue hanging out of its mouth. Her original owners were Bush & Wildes of Boston. Was was sold to sail under British colors and commanded by Capt. J. S. Lucas reporting his passage as 114 days from Boston, 25 days to the line, 51 to Cape Horn and off it 18 days, losing jibboom and gear attached; crossing the equator in the Pacific, March 16, 1855 and being within 500 miles of the Golden Gate for seven days.

April 13, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Shipping Intelligence

Arrived: Clipper ship Charmer, Lucas, 114 days from Boston, with mdse to Flint, Peabody & Co. 
Spoken: Per Charmer: Off Cape Horn, ship Queen of the Pacific, from Callao for Boston
Memoranda: Per Charmer - Was off Cape Horn 15 days in heavy weather; lost jib-boom and everything attached. Crossed the Equator March 16th, lon 116 W. since which time have had light winds from NE. Have been within 500 miles of this port for the last 7 days.

May 10, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco


Playing Cards: 36 green Highland Cards; 42 do Napoleon do, Landing ex Charmer, and for sale by H. F. Cutter & Co., 91 Front Street.

 May 14, 1855, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Exports. New York, Per Charmer: 700 flasks quicksilver, 100 bbls brandy, 13 pairs smiths' bellows, 31 cs specific, 12 cs cs wine, 26 cs blue, 4 cs cigars, 5 cs pirks, 2 bbls snuff, 3 pkgs salmon, 60 cs tobacco, 2S cs shovels. 65 cs and 2 pkgs hardware, 6 ct dry goods, 2112 bags barley, 1236 hf dozen shovels, 1814 bags wheat, 47 bales rags, 2900 qr bags flour, 23 bales bags, 20 hf bags flour, 173 bales wool, 4000 qr bags mdse, 15,901 do do, 6 bales skins, 330 do sheep skins, 410 do do, 375 calf skins, 1432 hides, 80 bales 138 cs 6 chts 3 pkgs 38 cks 6 bbls 21 taks 28 bxs mdse.

Returned to New York in 104 days and again arrived in San Francisco on March 8, 1856, in 143 days from New York. Sailed from San Francisco March 22, 1856, 53 days to Hong Kong. Arrived at New York, January 28, 1854 from Whampoa. Arrived back at San Francisco September 2, 1856, 136 days from New York.

September 18, 1857, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Shipping Intelligence: Clear



Medium clipper ship launched from the yard of Paul Curtis, East Boston, Massachusetts on March 28, 1853. 220 feet overall. The full length figure of Cleopatra, in robes of white fringed with gold, ornament her bow. Her owner was Benjamin Bangs of Boston. Captain Samuel V. Shreve sailed her from Boston on April 23, 1853.


Clipper ship built in 1853 by Hayden & Cudworth at Medford, Mass, for Howes and Crowell of Boston. Her figurehead was a gilded eagle on the wing and her stern oval. This rig was the invention of Capt. William F. Howes, who had superintended her construction and was to command her, and received its first trial on the Climax. In her case, a carew of only 14 men and two boys was required, about half of what the complement would otherwise have been.


July 1851, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

LAUNCH OF ANOTHER CLIPPER. -- Mr. William H. Webb, the well-known constructor of some of the finest clipper vessels afloat, will launch from his yard foot of Sixth street, East River, at High water, about 6 o'clock this evening, the beautiful clipper ship Comet. This vessel is owned by Messrs. Bucklin & Crane, and is destined for California and China, under the command of Capt. E.C. Gardiner, late of the Celestial, just arrived home, after an absence of 11 months and 8 days, in making the voyage around the world.

The Comet has been constructed of the best materials, and iron braced throughout and her model has been designed to combine the advantages of a fast sailer with great capacity for freight. Her dimensions are as follows: Length, 236 feet on deck; breadth of beam, 41 feet 4 inches; depth of hold, 22 feet 2 inches; and she rates 1700 tons of cargo carrying capacity.

October 1, 1851: The clipper ship Comet, Captain Gardner, sailed from New York for San Francisco.

The January 13, 1852 Daily Alta California reported that a writer in the New York Tribunesays of her:

Comet by Currier & Ives.

The Comet looks so small that a visitor is surprised to learn that her burden is 1,836 tons, by Custom House measurement. Her length on the keel is 217 feet 8 inches; on deck, between perpendiculars, 299 feet; over all, 241 feet; extreme breadth of beam, 41 feet 4 inches; breadth at the gunwales, 40 feet 2 inches, depth of hold, 22 feet 2 inches; dead rise, 27 inches. She is iron-braced throughout her whole frame, diagonally from stem to stern, like the Collins steamers, and is constructed chiefly of live oak. The poop-deck is 60 feet in length, and the compass-box, Robinson's patent steering apparatus, gangways, etc., are all ornamental. The main cabin is large, and elegantly furnished in every respect, with costly furniture, rich carpeting, book-case and library, mirrors, drawers, and every practicable convenience. There is also a ladies' cabin aft, equally admirable in construction. Between the two is a sliding partition, faced with looking glasses, which can be removed on occasion, and the two apartments thrown into one. The state-rooms are especially commodious; they are luxuriously equipped and rival on a miniature scale the best apartments in a first-class hotel. In addition to these elegance's, there are a bath-room, a smoking room, and water-closets, contiguous to the cabin. The forecastle is among the best lighted, best ventilated and most comfortably arranged of any we have seen. Every part of the ship is thoroughly ventilated by Emerson's ventilators, and the atmosphere is fresh and pure, even to the bottom of the hold. There is one iron tank under deck containing 4,900 gallons of water, and on deck are four smaller ones, holding 700 gallons each. There is also a force-pump, capable of throwing water to either end of the ship, and attached to it are 100 feet of hose, so that in case of fire, the means are at hand for its prompt suppression.

June 23, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

Shipping Intelligence

Daily Alta Shipping Intelligence Comet in Port. >


USS Constitution

USS Constitution being towed Out of Boston Harbor. 1812

The USS Constitution was given the affectionate nickname “Old Ironsides”. There is only a handful of endearing ships that have belonged to the US Navy and this ship, this magnificent ship, tops that list. Large and swift, she commanded the sea during the early 1800’s and is one of the only ships from that era still in commission today.

In 1803 she was designated the flagship of the Mediterranean squadron under the watchful eye of Captain Edward Preble. She saw her first real action protecting American interest in Africa off The Barbary Coast. Tripoli was her next stop, blockading the port and bombarding the fortifications until the Tunisians struck a peace treaty. The ship patrolled the waters off the coast for nearly two-years after the peace accord was signed, to enforce the order.

Returning to the United States, she was re-fitted in Boston and prepared for her next cruise. The year was 1812 and relations with the United Kingdom had deteriorated to the point of war. As the war with Britain seemed inevitable, the ship was sent to rendezvous at sea with a squadron of ships and prepare for war.

During The War of 1812 “Old Ironsides” went be against the British frigate, The Guerriere. The Brits found her off the Eastern coast of America. The shots from The Constitution found their mark and The Guerriere drifted in the Atlantic as the ship kept brushing off the cannon fire from the British sailing ship. The Guerriere was so badly damaged the sailors scuttled her leaving her to sink to the bottom of the ocean, another victim against The Constitution.

Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark is a British clipper ship. Built on the Clyde in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line, she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest, coming at the end of a long period of design development which halted as sailing ships gave way to steam propulsion. Commissioned by shipping magnate Jock ‘Whitehat’ Willis, she was built in a Scottish shipyard and launched at Dumbarton in 1869. The Cutty Sark’s unusual name derived from a poem by Robert Burns called ‘Tam O’Shanter.’ In this ode, a hero is chased by some witches, with the fastest one’s revealing shirt being known by the Scots as a cutty sark. The Cutty Sark was a masterpiece, the pinnacle of sailing ship design. Her composite hull of timber and iron was sleek and strong, while her three masts could hold a spread of canvas that propelled the ship at up to 17 knots. As a result, she spent the 1870s speeding across the high seas, establishing a reputation as one of the fastest ships afloat.

Cutty Sark.
1969 Log of Cutty Sark Clipper Ship
Whisky Photo Print Ad
Cutty Sark Print Ad.

The Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark spent a few years on the tea trade before turning to the trade in wool from Australia, where she held the record time to Britain for ten years.

In 1880, she set off on a voyage to Japan to deliver coal for the American Pacific fleet. It was a voyage she never completed. A fight amongst the crew left one man dead, and when the man responsible was allowed to escape by the captain, the rest of the crew mutinied. The ship’s captain, realising his career was ruined, committed suicide by stepping off the ship’s stern into the sea. These dark events gave the Cutty Sark a new reputation amongst sailors, as a ‘hellship’ and a cursed vessel.

The ship’s owner, Jock Willis, was determined to turn her fortunes around and so, in 1885, he hired an excellent, albeit eccentric, clipper captain named Richard Woodget. Captain Woodget recognised that the Cutty Sark’s commercial edge now lay in the dangerous wool run to Australia. In this arena the Cutty Sark once again excelled, setting speed records between London and Melbourne and Sydney. For a decade she established her fame through her lightning voyages, but by 1895, she was approaching the end of her life expectancy and had ceased to be profitable.

The ship was sold to the Portuguese company Ferreira and Co. in 1895, and renamed Ferreira. She continued as a cargo ship until purchased by retired sea captain Wilfred Dowman in 1922, who used her as a training ship operating from Falmouth, Cornwall.

Dashing Wave

The Dashing Wave Rounding Cape Horn.

Built in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 1852 by Fernald & Pettigrew of Portsmouth. She was a vessel of 1,180 tons, 181.8 x 39.6 x 21.3, and was placed in the California trade by Samuel Tilton & Co. of Boston under Capt. John B. Fiske.

November 27, 1853, Sailed from Philadelphia to San Francisco via Valparaiso.

On May 25, 1855, the Dashing Wave was reported due into San Francisco from Boston, Fisk, 99 days out.

In 1858, of the 90 clipper ships which cleared East Coast ports for San Francisco, Dashing Wave, under command of Captain Young,  made the third fastest passage. Her 107-day passage was beaten only by the 100-day runs of Wrightand Andrew Jackson.

August 4, 1859: Reached San Francisco 120 days from Boston. Merchandise to Flint, Peabody & Co.

1866-1900: She was bought by Capt. Hanson of Old Tacoma while sunk in New York harbor, and brought to Puget Sound for the lumber trade, establishing the record of 13 round trips between Tacoma and San Francisco in a single year.

November 4, 1867, Boston Post, Boston Massachusetts

Geo. Welles Nichols, Auctioneer

By Neilson & Nichols.

Sales Room 113 Pearl St., Hanover Square

On Friday, November 8th, at twelve o'clock,
At the Empire Stores, Brooklyn.
For account of whom it may concern.


The Ship Dashing Wave, as she now lies at the Empire Stores, built at Portsmouth, N.H. in 1853, of white oak, and thoroughly fastened with copper and iron; of 1054 tons measurement, and newly metalled in 1865. This vessel was sunk in the lower Bay last spring and recently raised by the wreckers. For further particulars, inquire at the Auctioneers' store.


SHIP'S MATERIALS -- A lot of Sailes, Rigging, Anchors, Chains, Cables, etc.

In later years she was owned by the Tacoma Mill Co., who sold her to Scoff & Stewart in 1900, at which time she entered The Nome trade. After her return she made a voyage to Hawaii with lumber and was then placed back in coastwise service under charter to her old owners, the Tacoma Mill.

Dashing Wave. William Bradford.

Dashing Wave. William Bradford.

Dashing Wave was purchased early in the year by the Pacific Cold Storage Co. of Tacoma. Her yards were removed and she was fitted as a refrigerator barge, carrying meat and vegetables to Alaskan ports as far north as St. Michael and Nome, and returning with frozen fish. Dashing Wave was one of the last of the American true clippers to operate under sail. Stranded on the mud flats at Seymour Narrows. Became a total loss.



February 12, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco


Per St. Charles -- December 16th, came through the Straits of La Mar in company with the ship Dauntless, of and from Boston, for this port, was in company off Cape Horn for three days. (The St. Charles was off Cape Horn 7 days in heavy weather; cross the Equator Jan 18th long 109.)

February 16, 1853, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California

Marine Intelligence

Port San Francisco, Feb. 13, 1853.

Feb. 12. -- Ship Dauntless, Miller, 116 days from Boston; mdse to Collins, Dushman & Co.

February 16, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Consignee Notices for Ship Dauntless February 18 1853 Daily Alta California.

Ship Dauntless, from Boston. -- Consignees by this ship are notified that she will commence discharging at California street wharf, This Day, and are requested to call on the undersigned, pay freight and receive orders for their goods. All goods remaining on the wharf after 5 p.m. must be stored at the risk and expense of the owners or consignees.

COLLINS, CUSHMAN & Co., Battery Street

 February 24, 1853, Daily Alta California, San Francisco

Consignee Notices for Ship Dauntless February 24, 1853.

Alton Weekly Courier, Alton, Illinois, April 27, 1854

The clipper Dauntless left Boston for Valparaiso on the 23rd of October, and her fate is unknown.

David Crockett

The Mystic built clippership David Crockett is again loading for her eighth passage to San Francisco. While many ships have been from 150 to 180 days in making the voyage, this celebrated clipper has made seven successive passages in 122, 116, 131, 123, 114,114, and 110 days.

Maritime Paintings of Montague Dawson.

Montague Dawson, the painter of Ariel and Taeping, was the son of a keen yachtsman and the grandson of the marine painter Henry Dawson (1811 1878). Dawson was born in Chiswick, London in 1895. Much of his childhood was spent on Southampton Water where he was able to indulge his interest in the study of ships. For a brief period around 1910 Dawson worked for a commercial art studio in Bedford Row, London, but with the outbreak of the First World War he joined the Royal Navy.

Ariel and Taeping

While serving with the Navy in Falmouth he met Charles Napier Hemy (1841 1917), who considerably influenced his work. In 1924 Dawson was the official artist for an Expedition to the South Seas by the steam yacht St. George. During the expedition he provided illustrated reports to the Graphic magazine.

Dawson's paintings are included throughout this site to illustrate these exquisite ladies of the sea.

Sea Captains.

Snow Squall: The Last American Clipper Ship
Nicholas Dean's book is a series of volunteer archaeological expeditions in the aftermath of the Falkland War.

Snow Squall's story is pieced together with information gleaned from shipping lists, newspaper accounts, disaster books, and diaries.

Her world turns out to be a fascinating one, from the laying of her keel to her captain's heroic efforts to repair his badly damaged ship after going aground near Cape Horn in 1864.


The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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DALevy @ MaritimeHeritage.org
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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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