This began as a somewhat topical post two weeks ago, as MASERATI set off from New York in an attempt to make a record pace to San Francisco. Of course the first “record” was in 1851, when FLYING CLOUD reached her destination in 89 days. The distance is more than 16,000 miles.
FLYING CLOUD was one of Donald McKay’s creations, perhaps his most famous clipper. Speed was of the essence in that era, as gold had been discovered in northern California and the great western migration of adventurers was underway. Typical transits of that time to San Francisco took 200 days.
That record wasn’t broken until Warren Luhrs’ THURSDAY CHILD bested it in 1989, with a time of 80 days. There have been several faster times since that.
Quoting from Wikipedia [I know]:
“FLYING CLOUD is popularly called an extreme clipper, as are many of Donald McKay’s ships, but as her dead rise was less than 40″ she was not. Donald McKay built many fast clipper ships but only one, the STAG HOUND, was an extreme clipper, even if others may have been advertised as such. It was popular to advertise clippers as “extreme” because of the popular conception of speed.
FLYING CLOUD was built in East Boston, Massachusetts, and intended for Enoch Train of Boston, who paid $50,000 for her construction. While still under construction, she was purchased by Grinnell, Minturn & Co., of New York, for $90,000, which represented a huge profit for Train & Co.”
Also worthy of note is that FLYING CLOUD’s navigator was a woman, Eleanor Creesy, wife of her captain, Josiah Perkins Creesy.
You can read more about FLYING CLOUD here:
When I was an adolescent in Camden, Maine, I spent hours reading about Donald McKay in the local library. Racing Turnabouts during the summer days, and dreaming of clippers at night….
Of course Wikipedia has an abridged biography of Donald McKay as well, here:
In a previous post in 2011, I wrote here about one of Donald McKay’s great-great-great grandchildren, Gardner. Here: http://boats.woodenboat.com/?p=1861
Thanks for reading, and please log in below to post your comments. Carl