The New Clipper Ship John Bertram, of Boston.

Before the California trade become important, our merchants generally confined themselves to the freighting business, consequently their ships were designed to stow large cargoes. Even those engaged in the India and China trades, made but trifling sacrifices of capacity in their ships for the purpose of obtaining speed. They seemed content to stand by and let the New Yorkers pass, consoling themselves with the reflection that, when their ships did arrive, they would land nearly double the amount of cargo compared with that brought by their fleeter neighbors. So long have our merchants adhered to this policy, that the New Yorkers have for years labored under the impression that we had not the mechanical skill, in this part of the country, to build anything but freighting ships. Whether they have made more money by their clippers than we have by our full modelled ships in the same trade, is a question we will not attempt to answer; but as soon as our merchants saw that clippers were really required for the California trade, they soon had them built. We are glad for it, for it has afforded out mechanics an opportunity of displaying their skill in a new department of naval architecture. Within the past six month no less than five splendid clippers, every one of them over 1000 tons, have been in this vicinity; and we have no hesitation in asserting that they will compare favorably with any of their class belonging to New York. In strength of construction we know them to be superior -- their sailing qualities have yet to be tested; but if correct proportions and beauty of outline give an idea of speed, in this essential, their success will be complete.

We consider the John Bertram a beautiful specimen of the clipper class, both as regards size and model. She is 173 feet long on the keel, 180 on deck, and 190 from the knight heads to the taffrail, has 37 feet extreme breadth of beam, 20 feet depth of hold, and will register about 1050 tons. Her depth of keel clear of the garboards is 29 inches, dead rise at half floor 40, rounding of sides 6, and sheer 26 inches. As her sternpost is upright, the rake of her stem is the difference between her length on the keel and on deck. Although very sharp in the ends her lines are all rounded; there is not, strictly speaking, a straight line on her above her floor. Her bow is light and graceful, and the skill displayed in raking the stem imparts to it a buoyant and dashy appearance. Its angular form is modified above the line of planksheer, as from that line it rises in easy flare, and becomes more circular on the line of the rail. She has a long and rakish head, with an eagle perched on its extreme. The noble bird is represented with outstretched wings, ready to soar aloft. Along the trail-boards and around the hawseholes are ornamented with gilded branches, and her name in gilded letters sets off the head-boards. On the ends of her cat-heads are gilded devices, and the knees under them are also carved and gilded.

Her greater breadth of beam is nearly amidships, and her ends up to the load displacement line have been formed as nearly alike as they could be, considering the difference of inclination of the stem and stern-post. She is about 28 feet wide on the transom, and 23 feet on the taffrail. It will be seen by these figures that the sweep of her lines is boldly marked; but is at the same time so easy and true that it seems impossible to improve it. The stern is well proportioned. It swells about 2 feet between the quarter timbers, and is also rounded from the arch-board to the rail. Its ground is black, and it is spanned by an arch of gilded carved work in the apex of which is a medallion bust of the gentleman whose name she bears. At the arch-board, on each side, the ornamental work terminates in two busts of eagles, represented gazing at each other. The design and execution are excellent, and reflect great credit on the artist. Mr. Gleason carved her head, and Mr. Mason the ornamental work on her stern.

She is coppered up to 17 feet forward and 18 aft, and above it is painted entirely black; and inside she is painted buff color relieved with white. Her bulwarks, including a monkey rail of 18 inches, are 5 feet 9 inches high, and are neatly planked and tastefully ornamented inside. She has a small topgallant forecastle, which extends aft to the windlass, and is the height of the main rail. The accommodations for her crew are below, forward; and as the between decks are 7 feet 3 inches high, they are lofty, and what is more, have been remarkably well fitted up. The entrance to them is protected by a spacious companion, which, when the wind is abaft the beam, will answer the purpose of a ventilator. Abaft the foremast is a house 41 feet long by 14 wide, which contains the galley and storerooms on the starboard side, and is the larboard side a berth for the long boat. The after end of the house is fitted to unship, so that when the boat is required, as it is chocked on rollers, it can be cleared without delay, ready for hoisting out.

She has a half poop deck the height of the main rail, with a square house in front, which forms a portico to the cabin. The portico has two doors, one on each side, well protected[.] The foremost cabin forms an ante-room to that abaft it, and contains two large state rooms, one on each side, which overlook the main deck. The great cabin is splendidly finished with mahogany, set off with enameled pilasters and cornices, edged with gilding, and its transom is fitted as a sofa. It contains two water-closets, five spacious state rooms, a pantry and an armory, and has a large skylight; also deck and side lights in every state room. Its furniture, mirrors, and other details, are arranged with taste, and have an air of comfort as well as beauty.

As the above will convey some idea of the ship and her accommodations, we will now take a brief review of the style of her construction. Her keel is of rock maple in two depths, with scarphs 8 feet long, and is sided 15, and moulded 36 inches. The scarphs and the parts of the keel are bolted with copper. She has two midship keelsons, each 15 by 16 inches, and the floor timbers are sided from 12 to 14 inches, and moulded from 16 to 17, and are alternately bolted through the keel, and trough the lower keelson, and the keel, with 1¼ inch copper, so that she has a copper bolt through every floor timber and the keel. The upper keelson is bolted with refined iron of the same size through every navel timber, down blunt into the keel, within two inches of its base. She also has sister keelsons of 10 by 12 inches, bolted horizontally through the lower midship keelson, and each other, and diagonally through every floor timber into the keel. The stern and stern-post, and stern-knee, are bolted with copper, the bolts averaging about 1 foot apart, all driven through and riveted.

On the floor the ceiling is 4 inches thick; and over the first floor heads there are 4 strakes of 10 by 13 inches, which also cover the navel timber heads, and extend the whole length of the vessel -- are scarphed and square fastened with 1 inch iron, the bolts driven from the outside, and clinched on the inside. Above these there are 4 strakes of 8 by 13, and all the ceiling above, up to the deck, is 6 by 13 inches, square fastened and all scarphed. She has 3 breast hooks, two of which cross the cants diagonally, and connect with the beams abaft, and two after hooks secured in the same style. The hanging and lodging knees connected with the beams of both decks are of hacmatack. The deck frames of both decks are of hard pine -- and the beams of the lower deck are 14 by 16 inches, and the upper deck beams 9½ by 16 inches. The hanging knees in the hold are sided from 8 to 12 inches -- have 3 feet 8 inches arms, and 4 feet 5 inches bodies, and moulded 20 inches in the throats and have from 16 to 18 bolts in each. Under the upper deck beams, the knees are about 6 inches longer in the bodies, and have 2 more bolts in them than those below. The lodging knees are well fitted and strongly bolted.

Her hold stanchions are of oak, 10 inches square, and in the body of the vessel, are kneed above and below, but towards the ends are clasped with iron; those in the between-decks are turned, 8 inches in diameter, and secured with iron rods through their centres in the usual style.

The between-decks waterways are 15 inches square, the strake inside of them 9 by 12 inches, dovetailed an inch and a half over the beams, and the strake over them is 9 by 14 inches. These are all cross-bolted in the most substantial style. The ceiling above is 5 inches thick. From the thick work in the hold, up to the upper deck, she is all square fastened, the fastening varying from 1 1/8 inch to 7/8th of an inch. The breasthook in the between-decks is sided 13 inches, and moulded between 3 and 4 feet in the throat, extends well aft, and is closely bolted. She has 9 transoms, the main one of which is 17 inches square amidships, and those in the between-decks are strengthened by a standing knee, the lower arm of which extends along a midship stringer (the stringer extends to the mizenmast), and is bolted through it and the beams. The upper arm is bolted through the transoms and sternpost. Forward is another midship stringer, which extends to the foremast, and another standing knee, bolted through the apron and stem, and through the beams.

The upper deck waterways are 12 inches square, and the planksheer and main rail each 14 by 6 inches. The latter is faced with oak on the inside, which forms the rack rail, and is therefore wider than the planksheer. Her bulwark stanchions average 10 by 7 inches, and are all bolted with copper, and her upper deck and bulwarks are fastened with composition. The planking of both decks is of white pine 3½ inches thick.

Her garboards are 7 inches thick, alternately bolted through each other and the keel, and up through the floor timbers into the hold. The planking outside of them is graduated to 4 inches, and her wales are 5½ inches, carried up flush to the planksheer. Many of her treenails have been driven through and wedged in both ends, and she is extra butt and bilge bolted.

Her frame is of choice white oak, except the toptimbers which are of hacmatack, and she is seasoned with salt, and her ends in the hold are bulkheaded off, and are also covered with salt. She has brass ventilators along the line of her planksheer and in the bitts, and Emerson's patent ventilators, which extend into the hold. In materials, fastening, seasoning and ventilation, she is all that could be desired in a ship of her capacity. These details will convey a fair idea of the style of her construction.

She is a full rigged ship. Her masts rake, commencing with the fore, 1¼, 1½ and 1¾ inches to the foot. The following are the dimensions of her masts and yards:--

Dimensions, Inches. Length, Feet. Mast-heads, Feet.
Fore 29 76 1-6 12½
Top 15 45½
Topgallant 10½ 24 0
Royal 8 15 pole...11
Main 30 81 1-6 13
Top 16 47½
Topgallant 11 26 0
Royal 9 16 pole...12
Mizen 23 67¾ 10
Top 12 36
Topgallant 20 0
Royal 12 pole...8
Fore 18 68 yard-arms...4½
Top 14 53
Topgallant 10 39
Royal 7 29
Skysail 6 23
Main 19 74
Top 16 57
Topgallant 11 42
Royal 32
Skysail 26
Crossjack 14 54
Mizentopsail 11½ 41
Topgallant 9 31
Royal 7 24
Skysail 19 1

The bowsprit is 28½ inches in diameter, and 25½ feet outboard; jibboom 16 inches in diameter, and divided at 20 and 15 feet outside of the cap for the inner and outer jibs, with 6 feet ends; spanker-boom 10½ inches diameter, 32 feet long, with 4 feet end, and gaff 24 feet, with 6 feet end. Her fore and main rigging and stays, and fore and maintopmast backstays, are all of 10 inch, and the lower rigging is served over the ends, and covered over the service in the eyes, and down below the futtock rigging, with canvas. Her mizen rigging and mizentopmast backstays and stays are 8 inch, fitted in the same style as the rigging of the other masts. She has iron futtock rigging, and all the other iron and chain work aloft and about the bowsprit and jibboom, now in general use. Her spars look beautifully, and are remarkably well rigged. Mr. Francis Low & Sons, well known for their large experience, and the thorough style of their work, rigged her, and her spars were made by Mr. Fernald.

In her outfits, no vessel has been more liberally equipped. She has a powerful patent windlass; two beautiful capstans, made of locust and mahogany, with composition circles and pauls, and brass drum-heads; four patent lever winches, two on each side, one forward and the other aft; a patent steering apparatus, upon a new and improved principle, and plenty of boats, good ground tackle, and a liberal supply of spare sails and cordage. Her chain lockers are in the hold, just before the main hatchway, in the body of the vessel; and abaft the mainmast, she has a large iron tank, capable of holding nearly 4000 gallons of water. She also has copper pumps of the New York patent, which work with fly wheels and winches. Built of the best materials, heavily timbered, strongly fastened, well ventilated, and liberally found, she is certainly as perfectly complete as any ship can be. The beauty of her model is apparent to all, and we doubt not she will prove an uncommonly swift sailer and a good sea-boat.

She was built at East Boston by Messrs. Ewell & Jackson, under the superintendence of Capt. Glidden, to whose skill as a sailor, may be attributed the completeness of her equipment.

She is owned by Messrs. Glidden & Williams, and Twombly & Lamson, of Boston, and Flint & Peabody, of San Francisco, and is designed for the California and China trade. Capt. Frederick Lindholm, a gentleman of much experience in the trade, commands her. She is now lying at the South side of Lewis Wharf, loading for San Francisco, and will be ready for sea in a few days. Good luck to her.

Boston Daily Atlas, January 4, 1851.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives | The Boston Daily Atlas | Search.

Copyright © 1997 Lars Bruzelius.