Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Was FLYING CLOUD the Inspiration for Sea Fever?

Extreme clipper ship- Flying Cloud
(Boston, MA)- Perhaps. In the early days of the California Gold Rush, it took more than 200 days for a ship to travel from New York to San Francisco. Remember those were the days before the Panama Canal. It was a long hard voyage of more than 16,000 miles.

It was a treacherous voyage that included going around Cape Horn, and subsequently some of the most dangerous waters known to mankind. Yet, in 1851, a clipper called the Flying Cloud made the same journey in only 89 days. It was a headline-grabbing world record which the Flying Cloud itself beat three years later.

The Flying Cloud, America's most famous clipper ship, was the masterpiece of Donald McKay, the foremost marine architect and shipbuilder of his time.

Clipper ship Flying Cloud under full sail
Clipper ships were born in the shipyards of Baltimore around 1820 and represented the zenith of the age of sail. They had completely new and original naval design characteristics, still emulated today by marine designers.

Flying Cloud- Donald Mackay designer
These included a long and narrow hull, a narrow cutting bow, low freeboard, a streamlined stern, and a deep draft. They were especially renowned for carrying large amounts of sail relative to their displacement and were capable of remarkable speed. The Flying Cloud could be seen racing into port before the wind, her acres of sail flashing in the sun.

An ordinary sailing ship would lift her bows and plunge with the seas. But not this one, as her sleek, jet-black hull sliced through the swells, the only visible motion was the white curl at her bow and an occasional toss of spray. She seemed to skim the waves like a gigantic black and white bird.

The Flying Cloud was built in East Boston, Massachusetts, and intended for Enoch Train of Boston, who paid $50,000 for her construction. She was launched in East Boston in 1851, just at the time of the California "Gold Rush", when travel and transport between East Coast ports and California was best undertaken by ship.

famous painting of Flying Cloud- extreme clipper ship
The Flying Cloud acquired a reputation for sailing faster than any other ship of her time. Within six weeks of launch, the Flying Cloud sailed from New York and made San Francisco 'round Cape Horn in 89 days, 21 hours under the command of Captain Josiah Perkins Creesy. Then, in 1853, she beat her own record by 13 hours.

All the more remarkable of her amazing exploits was one oft-forgotten fact....her record setting performance was all the more unusual because her navigator was a woman, Eleanor Creesy, who had been studying oceanic currents, weather phenomena, and astronomy since her girlhood in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She was one of the first navigators to exploit the insights of Matthew Fontaine Maury, most notably the course recommended in his Sailing Directions. With her husband, ship captain Josiah Perkins Cressy, she logged many thousands of miles on the ocean, traveling around the world carrying passengers and goods

Read the entire story here, written by Tom Correa, famous for his blog- The American Cowboy Chronicles.