Sea Witch (clipper)

The "Sea Witch" was an American clipper ship designed by naval architect John Griffiths for the China trading firm of Howland & Aspinwall. She was launched in Manhattan on December 8, 1846 and grounded, a total loss, in Cuban waters near Havana in early 1856.

Her dimensions and history

The "Sea Witch" was 192 feet in length, had a 43-foot beam, and was of 908 tons burden. She was designed and built by the shipbuilding firm of Smith & Dimon in New York City as a purpose-built vessel for the speedy movement of high-value freight, such as porcelain and tea, from China to the United States East Coast. To this end, she was very heavily sparred and built with especially tall masts for a vessel of her size. Her 140-foot mainmast carried five tiers of sails, as did the shorter foremast and mizzenmast. She was briefly the tallest ship afloat, and is credited with being one of the first American "clipper ships." "History of the 'Sea Witch'", accessed November 28, 2007. [http://www.pielcraftsmen.com/ships/seawitch.html] ]

Howland & Aspinwall gave the command of the "Sea Witch" to Captain Robert Waterman, known in the trade as "Bully Bob" Waterman. In 1847, under Waterman, she made a record-setting run from Hong Kong to New York in 77 days. She lowered this record to 74 days under the same captain in 1849. This March 1849 mark is one of the oldest human speed records remaining as of 2007, having not yet been bettered by any sailing vessel. "Sea Witch", accessed November 28, 2007. [http://www.eraoftheclipperships.com/seawitchcopyweb.html] ]

After gold was discovered in California, the "Sea Witch's" Howland & Aspinwall owners transferred her from the China trade to the new Cape Horn run from the East Coast to San Francisco. In early 1850 the "Sea Witch" completed this passage in 97 days, the first vessel ever to do so in less than 100 days.

Later in the 1850s the "Sea Witch" physically deteriorated and her place in the fast-freight trade was taken over by newer vessels. The aging clipper ship was reassigned to serve as a steerage vessel carrying immigrants to the Western Hemisphere. In 1856, with approximately 500 immigrants from China on board, she ran aground 12 miles (19 km) west of Havana. "Wreck of the 'Sea Witch'", accessed November 28, 2007. [http://www.eraoftheclipperships.com/page63.html] ]

References

Navbox
name = Clipper ships
title = Clipper ships, designers & builders

group1 = British-built clippers
list1 ="Ariel· Blackadder· Challenger· City of Adelaide· Cutty Sark· Hallowe'en· Lammermuir "(1856)"· Lammermuir "(1864)"· Leander· Lothair· Norman Court· Sir Lancelot· Taeping· Tayleur· Thermopylae· Taitsing"

group2 = American-built clippers
list2 ="Champion of the Seas· Flying Cloud· Great Republic· James Baines· Lightning· Sea Witch· Sovereign of the Seas· Stag Hound· Ticonderoga"

group3 = Dutch-built clippers
list3 = "California· Kosmopoliet· Stad Amsterdam"

group4 = British designers and builders
list4 = Hercules Linton· William Lithgow· John Scott Russell· Scott & Linton

group5 = American designers and builders
list5 = Donald McKay· Nathaniel Palmer· William Henry Webb


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