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
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.
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
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
1874 June 19
Went ashore on the Beacon Island bar, St Johns and was condemned
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
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
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,