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Clipper Sailing Ships

Much of the information on this page comes from
Clipper Sailing Ships
The Power of Gold
Emigrant Ships to Australia in the Forties.
Report on Steerage Conditions in 1844.
The Discovery of Gold in Australia
Melbourne and its Shipping 1851-2
Blue Jacket
Champion of the Seas 
Cutty Sark
Donald Mackay
Heather Bell 
James Baines
John Bunyan
Maid of Judah
Red Jacket
Walter Hood
White Star
Tall Ships 2007 Wall Calendar





The Champion of the Seas was closely followed by the James Baines, considered by most sailormen to have been the fines and fastest of the great Mackey quartette. When she loaded troops for India in 1857 and was inspected by Queen Victoria at Portsmouth, the Queen remarked that she did not know she possessed such a splendid ship in her Mercantile Marine.

When she first arrived in Liverpool a well-known Liverpool ship owner wrote to a Boston paper: “You want to know what professional men say about the ship James Baines? Her unrivalled passage, of course, brought her prominently before the public and she has already been visited by many of the most eminent mechanics of the country. She is so strongly built, so finely finished and is so beautiful a model that even envy cannot prompt a fault against her. On all hands she has been praised as the most perfect sailing ship that ever entered the river Mersey.”

Donald Mackay never built two ships exactly alike, and the James Baines was of slightly fuller design that the Lightning and yet sharper and longer in the bow than the Champion of the Seas.

Her chief measurements were:

Registered Tonnage


2525 tons


2275 tons

Length Over All

266 feet

Length Between Perpendiculars

226 feet


44 ¾ feet

Depth of Hold

29 feet

Dead Rise at Half-Floor

18 feet


The following extracts are taken from an account of the James Baines given in the Boston Atlas at the time of her launch:-”She has a long, rakish, sharp bow with slightly concave lines below, but convex above, and it is ornamented with a bust of her namesake, which was carved in Liverpool and which is said by those who know the original to be an excellent likeness. It is blended with the cut-water, is relieved with gilded carved wood and forms a neat and appropriate ornament to the bow. She is planked flush to the covering board, has a bold and buoyant sheer, graduated her whole length, rising gracefully the ends, particularly forward; and every moulding is fair and harmonizes finely with the planking and her general outline. Her stern is rounded, and although she has a full poop deck, her after body surpasses in neatness that of any vessel her talented builder has yet produced.

“Our most eminent mechanics consider her stern perfect. It is rounded below the line of the plank sheer, is fashioned above in an easy curve, and only shows a few inches of rise above outline of the monkey rail; and as this rise is painted white and rest of the hull black, when viewed broadside on, her sheer appears a continuous line along her entire length. Her stern is ornamented with carved representations of the great globe itself, between the arms of Great Britain and the United States, surrounded with fancy work, has carved and gilded drops between the cabin windows and her name above all, the whole tastefully gilded and painted. Her bulwarks are built solid and are surmounted by a monkey rail, which is paneled inside, and their whole height above the deck is about 6 feet, varying of course towards the ends.

“She has a full topgallant foc’s’le, which extends to the foremast and is fitted for the accommodation of her crew; and abaft the foremast a large house, which contains spacious galleys, several staterooms, storerooms, an ice room and shelters a staircase which leads to the decks below. She has a full poop deck, between 7 and 8 feet high, under which is the cabin for female passengers and before it a large house which contains the dining saloon and other apartments. The out line of the poop and the house is protected by rails, on turned stanchions, and the enclosure forms a spacious and beautiful promenade deck. She has also a small house aft, which shelters the helmsman in a recess, protects the entrance to the captain’s cabin, is also a smoking room for passengers and answers a variety of other purposes.

“The captain’s cabin and sleeping room are on the starboard side and communicate with the wheelhouse on deck, so that it will not be necessary for him to enter the cabin set apart for female passengers. Besides these the cabin contains 11 spacious staterooms, a bathroom and other useful apartments.

“the dining saloon is 35 ft long by 15 ft wide ; the entrance to the deck from the saloon is 2 ½ ft wide and extends across the house, with a door on each side, and opposite the midship door of the saloon is the pantry, which is spacious and fitted up in superior style. In the front of the saloon house are the staterooms of the first & second officers, and the windows of these rooms are of stained glass and have the ship’s name in them. The staircase in the after part of the saloon leads to the main deck, where are the gentlemen’s sleeping apartments, 24 in all, each stateroom having two berths. The deck before the gentlemen’s sleeping cabin has three large ports for cargo opposite the hatchways, one on each side, and square ports suitable for staterooms along the sides.The lower decks are ventilated amidships with trunk skylights which pass through the house forward as well as the cabin and saloon aft. The height between each of the decks is 7 ½ ft. The ascent from the quarter-deck to the poop consists of two staircases, built into the front of the poop. She is very heavily sparred and will spread about 13,000 yards of canvas in a single suit of sails. Her mastheads and yards are black; the lower masts, from the truss bands to the fife rails, are bright and varnished, their hoops white and the tops and down to the truss band are also white. She has iron caps and is rigged in nearly the same style as the Champion of the Seas. Her bulwarks and houses are painted white and her waterways blue, and in this style she is also painted below.”

Captain McDonald left the Parco Polo in order to take charge of the James Baines. She sailed from Boston the 12th September, 1854.

It will be seen that the James Baines had her share of light breezes, and Captain Mc Donald believed that he could have made the passage in eight days with strong winds. Running up Channel the wind was strong and fair and very squally, the vessel sometimes making 20 knots an hour between points.

At Liverpool the James Baines was fitted and furnished for passengers by Messrs. James H. Beal and brother. And her cabin fittings are described as being of “almost lavish splendor,” with innumerable pilasters and mirrors.

I also note the following in a Liverpool account: “Before the mainmast there are three gallows frames, upon which her spare boats are stowed, bottom up, and over the sides she carries quarter boats, suspended in iron davits. She has copper-chambered pumps, six capstans, a crab-winch on the foc’s’le, a patent windlass, Crane’s self-acting chain stoppers, a patent steering apparatus and a large variety of other improvements of the most modern kind.”


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