Clipper ship "Flying Cloud" 1851 





Flying Cloud was an Extreme Clipper ship built in Boston to compete for the passenger and cargo trade going to the west coast.
This was an era of fast ships that sailed around Cape Horn to arrive in San Francisco, or other ports ahead of the competition.
Below are some of the records set by the original Flying Cloud.

These are the numerous records set by the original Flying Cloud Clipper Ship

Flying Cloud

An extreme clipper launched in 1851, at the shipyard of Donald McKay, East Boston, for Enoch Train, Boston.


     If great length, sharpness of ends, with proportionate breadth
     and depth, conduce to speed, the Flying Cloud must be
     uncommonly swift, for in all these she is great. Her length on
     the keel is 208 feet, on deck 225, and over all, from the knight
     heads to the taffrail, 235  extreme breadth of beam 41
     feet, depth of hold 21½, including 7 feet 8 inches height of
     between-decks, dead-rise at half floor 20 inches, rounding of
     sides 6 inches, and sheer about 3 feet. 

Duncan McLean in The Boston Daily Atlas, April 25, 1851.


1851 April
     Purchased by Grinell, Minturn & Co, New York, for $ 90.000. 
1851 April 15 
     Launched at East Boston. 
1851 June 2  August 31 
     Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 89 days 21 hours under
     command of Captain Josiah Perkins Cressey. On July 31 she made 374
     miles in 24 hours. Her navigator was the captains wife.
1852 January 6  April 9 
     Sailed from Whampoa to New York in 94 days. 
1852 December 1  March 8 
     Sailed from Whampoa to New York in 96 days. 
1853 April 28  August 12 
     Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 105 days. 
1854 January 21  April 20 
     Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 89 days 8 hours. 
1854 July 20  November 24 
     Sailed from Whampoa to New York in 115 days. 
1855 September 5  December 14 
     Sailed from Whampoa to New York in 99 days. 
1856 March 13  September 14 
     Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 185 days under command
     of Captain Reynard. She is reputed to have sailed 402 miles in 24
     hours during that trip. 
1856 May 10  June 23 
     Partially dismasted en route San Francisco and put into Rio de Janeiro
     for repairs where her spars were cut down before she proceeded. 
1856 September 14  1857 January 4 
     Laid up in San Francisco. 
1857 April - 1859 December 8 
     Laid up in New York. The spars were cut down once more in 1858. 
1861 February 28  May 24 
     Sailed from London (Deal) to Melbourne in 85 days. 
     Bought by Mackay & Co, Liverpool, for their Queensland service, but
     instead mortgaged to the Forwood family, Liverpool. Sailed for James
     Baines' "Black Ball Line". 
1870 June 4  August 30 
     Sailed from London to Hervey's Bay in 87 days under command of
     Captain Owen. 
1871 April 19 
     After James Baines & Co. had suspended payment, Arthur Forwood
     took possession of the ship and sold her to Harry Smith Edwards of
     South Shields. 
1874 June 19
     Went ashore on the Beacon Island bar, St Johns and was condemned
     and sold. 
1875 June 
     Was burned for her copper and metal fastenings. 

The Flying Cloud's achievement was remarkable under any terms. But, writes David W. Shaw,   it was all the more
unusual because its 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. In the wake of their record-setting transit  from New York to California, Eleanor and Josiah became instant celebrities.
But their fame was short-lived and their story quickly forgotten.
Josiah died in 1871 and Eleanor lived far from the sea until her death in 1900.


Select Bibliography:

     Howes & Matthews: American Clipper Ships 1833-1858, 1926. 
     McKay, Richard: Some Famous Sailing Ships and Their Builder
     Donald McKay. 1928. 
     Stammers, Michael K.: The Passage Makers. Teredo Books, Brighton,


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