Clipper Ships

Clipper Ships Clipper ships were extremely fast sailing ships developed primarily by the United States between the 1830’s and 1860’s. Clippers’ did not have a final definition written in stone, but did share certain characteristics such as a sharp hull (designed for speed, not for cargo capacity) and a heavy and lofty square rig. The origin of the clipper is debatable. Some believe that it was descended from the French frigate of the late 1700’s. Other’s believe that it originated from the early Baltimore clipper’s.

It is highly probable that it was designed by many ship builders who combined their experience. The first American clippers like the Rainbow and the Sea Witch, were built in New York for tea trades to China. A few years later, the California Gold Rush was the major concern of such ships. One of the fastest clipper was the Flying Cloud, which, on her maiden voyage, was the first ship to sail from New York, around the Cape Horn, and to San Francisco in under 90 days. By this time period, Yankee ship builders were building clipper ships for the British, who dominated the rote to Australia.

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One of these such people was Donald McKay, who built the James Baines. Unfortunately, the James Baines ended in a fire at Liverpool. Later, McKay would build another ship, known as Lightening for James Baines. The Lightening would race the Red Jacket, a vessel built by George Thomas. These two ships raced, and the Red Jacket logged 2,020 nautical miles in six days. These ships were once great.

Now we have larger, stronger, and faster ships. Once great clippers are now nothing but museum exhibits. The old let to the new. Even on the ocean, this law follows.


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