Stag Hound

The "Stag Hound", launched on December 7, 1850 in East Boston, Massachusetts, is usually credited with being the first extreme clipper ship ever built. Designed by shipbuilder Donald McKay for the California trade, she was briefly the largest merchant ship in the world.

Her construction and history

The commercial success of U.S. clipper ships in the China trade in the 1840s, closely followed by the California gold rush of 1849, made it possible for the designs of square-rigged merchant ships to reach their culmination of development. Merchant firms such as Boston's Sampson & Tappan were able to venture the capital necessary to build "extreme clippers", a type of vessel longer, with taller masts, more heavily sparred, and with sharper lines than any built before this time.

With the money in hand, McKay and his men built the "Stag Hound" in only 100 days in late 1850. She was built to carry 1,600 registered tons' burden, several hundred tons of freight capacity greater than any other vessel then being built for the California trade. Almost all of the manufactured goods consumed in the California gold fields had to be carried from the United States East Coast.

Author Jane Lyon wrote in 1962 this description of the launch of "Stag Hound", based on contemporary journalistic accounts:quote|The bells of Boston pealing noon were echoed by the sound of hammers knocking away the blocks. The watchers held their breath as the great ship stirred. "There she goes!" they cried, and the foreman smashed a bottle of rum across her forefoot. "Stag Hound!" he shouted, "Your name's Stag Hound!" She slid gracefully into the water. Cheering reverberated across the bay; a cannon roared; a band played loudly. [cite book
last =Lyon
first =Jane
title =Clipper Ships and Captains
publisher =American Heritage Publishing Co.
year =1962
pages =page 59
id =Library of Congress #62-21579
]

The "Stag Hound" sailed from New York City on February 1, 1851 for San Francisco with a crew of 46 men. She was so heavily sparred that, at full sail, she carried almost 6,000 square yards of canvas. This was more sail area than most able seamen and their officers knew how to handle in those days, and after only 6 days, a gale blew out her main topmast and all three topgallant masts.

Despite this mishap, the "Stag Hound's" crew raised a jury rig and reached California in 113 days (108 days at sea and 5 days in port), a very fast time for a partly dismasted vessel. The "Stag Hound" then proceeded to Guangdong to load a cargo of tea. The entire round-the-world voyage earned a profit of $80,000 in 1851 U.S. dollars, which was enough to inspire the construction of a fleet of California clippers in future years. "The 'Stag Hound'", accessed November 29, 2007. [http://www.eraoftheclipperships.com/page18web3.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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