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Clipper Ships. Essay

968 words - 4 pages

Clipper ShipsThe name Clipper is applied to a ship to indicate that it is a very fast sailer. The term, probably derived from the verb clip (to move quickly), was first used in the United States soon after the War of 1812 and was applied to the type of vessel formerly described as Virginia built or of pilot boat construction. After the 1830s the term clipper was adopted to mean any fast ship.The Clipper ShipBy 1830 general usage had made the term clipper synonymous with fast sailing, although no specific hull type or rig was standard. 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. All the extreme clippers were built between 1850 and 1856. Moderately sharp-bowed vessels capable of carrying more cargo than the extreme ships were called clippers. Ships with small cargo capacity but having bows sufficiently sharp to give fairly high speed were called medium clippers or half clippers. A small proportion of the American California and China clippers were of the extreme type; medium clippers predominated.The American clipper ship era extended only from about 1845 to 1859. Not many American clippers were launched before 1850 and few were built after 1857. In Great Britain clipper shipbuilding continued until well into the 1870s, because the British tea trade employed fast-sailing ships long after that and similar trades became unprofitable for fast American vessels. Most of the British clipper ships were of extreme models, but on the average they were smaller than the earlier American clipper ships. Some iron clipper ships were built in Great Britain, none in the U.S. Some 15 or 16 clippers were built in Canada, in Québec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, from 1850 to 1860. Most of the Canadian clipper ships were employed in the packet service between Great Britain and Australia. A small number of clipper ships were built in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden.The building of medium or half clippers extended generally from 1845 to 1860. Some vessels of this description that were built after 1860 for the coffee trade were bark rigged, but were of small size compared with the earlier California and China clipper ships. From 1850 to 1860 many sharp-bowed brigantines and schooners were built on the model of the large...

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