Clipper was first a generic name to describe a very fast sailing ship such as the Baltimore Clipper which was a rakish topsail schooner popular with pirates privateers and slave runners. In 1833 Ann McKim, 494 tons built in Baltimore for the Honorable Isaaac Mc Kim, a wealthy sea captain and merchant. Her length was 143 feet and a beam of 31 an enlarged Baltimore clipper given sq riigings was the largest merchant ship of her day. After about 1845 the term was used in conjunction with a name indicating the cargo carried or area served by a fast-sailing vessel, and a specific rig and hull type usually were indicated. The more common types were the California clipper, China clipper, coffee clipper, opium clipper, and tea clipper. The California clipper, China clipper, and tea clipper were ship-rigged vessels with sharp bows and were designed for speed. The coffee and opium clippers varied in size and might be schooner, brigantine, brig, bark, or ship rigged, but were equally sharp bowed for fast sailing.
The ships having the sharpest bows, that is, those in which cargo capacity was most sacrificed for speed, were called extreme clippers many feel the first extreme clipper was Rainbow, built in 1845 in New York 1757 tons. On her maiden voyage Captain Land took her to China and back to New York in around tripof seven months and 17 days Two events that help push the need for the developed of fast bread of sailing ship was the discovery of gold in California and Australia. The second event was the ending of the opium wars in China opening the ports to English and American ships for tea and opium trade.
Hundreds of Yankee clippers roamed the globe carrying passengers and freight, they were remarkably fast; claims for speeds from 16 to 18 nautical mph are common, and exceptional speeds of up to 20 knots have been documented.while setting ocean sailing records that stand to challenge the tall ships of today
Rainbow, in 1845 to China and back to New York in around tripof seven months and 17 days
Lightning, which established a world record by sailing 436 nautical mi in one day;
James Baines, which set a transatlantic record of 12 days 6 hr from Boston to Liverpool
James Baines, around-the-world record of 133 days.
Flying Cloud, which sailed from New York City around Cape Horn to San Francisco in 89 days
Nightingale, which sailed from Shanghai to London in 91 days;
Sea Witch, Guangzhou to New York in 81 days
McKay and His Famous Sailing Ships;
Last Grain Race Eric Newby, mired in a dead end ad agency job, signs on as an ordinary seaman on what is to be the last great voyage of the clipper ships in 1939. The Moshulu, a four masted barque is docked in Belfast and conditions aboard her are not much different from a hundred years earlier. Added to his difficulties is the lingua franca of the ship (Finnish), his youth and innocence (eighteen years old), and an apparent hatred of Englishmen conceived by almost everyone on board. Needless to say the resulting book is hilarious, wonderfully informative and close to being poetic in places.
by Octavius T. Howe, Frederick C. Matthews
Paperback - 780 pages
Vol 001 (August 1986)
This is the best description of the hard life of an American sailor in the 1870s. Harlow, from New England, describes his first coastal voyage on a schooner, down the coast and up the Chesapeake and the Potomac. Then he tells of his long voyage to Australia on a square rigger. The book is fascinating and easy to read even if you don't fully understand all the nautical terms. It is well documented with sea chanteys, pictures and explanatory footnotes
The halcyon days of the American clipper were all too brief-a mere six years-yet their hold on the collective imagination endures. The product of 35 years of research, this handsome volume details the 152 clipper ships that comprise the culmination of the shipbuilder's art. Every facet of their design and construction is described in exquisite detail, with many intricately drawn midship sections, insights into the appointments of interior living areas, and the most minute details about timbers and bracing. Invaluable to historians model builders, and maritime artists.
LINKS TO CLIPPER SHIP INFORMATION
The Cutty Sark : the only clipper ship left
the new clipper Shining Sea. When completed this ship will be the largest wooden square-rigger under sail in the world. Her course is charted to generate national pride and renewed respect for the skills of the American people. Although Shining Sea will be traditional in appearance, modern Navy technology will be used for her construction. Shining
Clipper Stad Amsterdam For tall-ships 2000, the City of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, will build a new steel-hulled clipper. The Stad Amsterdam will be built along the designs of a ship built in 1854. It will be 53 meters/174 feet long, have a beam of 9.85 meters/32.3 feet and carry 1,680 square meters/2,020 square yards of sail. The ship will be built with several modern items, such as a bow thruster. Accomodation will be provided for 53 crewmembers and 36 passengers.
A selection of some of the most well-known North American built clipper-ships.
A selection of some of the most well-known British tea clipper-ships.