This another of that splendid class of ships which the growing trade to California has called into existence; and like the others, has been designed specially for speed, without particular reference to stowage capacity. But in the outline of her model, she bears little resemblance to any of the others we have described. Indeed, all the clippers embody the various ideas of speed, entertained by their several designers, and as "no two men think alike," neither do any of the clippers resemble the others in their particular details. The Witchcraft has all the airy grace of a clipper, combined with the imposing solidity of a ship of war. There is something substantial about her appearance, both inside and out. She is 180 feet long on the keel, 185 between perpendiculars, and 193 feet over all, from the knight heads to the taffrail -- has 39 feet 4 inches extreme breadth of beam, 22 feet depth of hold, and registers 1310 51 95ths tons. Her depth of keel, clear of the garboards, is 29 inches, dead rise at half floor 35 inches, swell or rounding of sides 6 inches, and sheer 2 feet.
Her keel is of rock maple in two depths, sided 15 inches and moulded 3 feet; the floor timbers are sided from 11 to 12, and moulded 17 inches, and she has two keelsons, each 16 inches square. The floor timbers are bolted alternately through the keel, and through the first keelson and the keel, with 1¼ inch copper, driven through and riveted; and the upper keelson is bolted with iron, of the same size as the copper, through every navel timber down blunt into the keel. She has two sister keelsons 12 inches square, cross bolted in the usual style. The ceiling on the floor is 4½ inches thick, and commencing well down below the floor heads, and extending over them, she has 4 strakes of 12 by 14 inches, the lower strake of oak, and are all scarphed and square fastened with inch iron, and extend the whole length of the vessel. Above these there are four strakes of 10 by 12 inches, secured in the same style with 7/8ths of an inch fastening. The ceiling above, up to the deck, is 6 by 12 inches. From the commencement of the thick work in the hold up to the upper deck, she is all square fastened, and her fastening varies from 1¼ inch to 7/8ths of an inch. Her cutwater, stem, apron, sternpost, stern knee, &c., are all bolted with copper up to her load displacement line. Her beams are of Southern pine, those in the hold are 16 inches square, and those in the between-decks 10 by 16. The hanging and lodging knees in the hold are of oak, and those in the body of the vessel, under the beams, have 6 feet bodies, and 4½ feet arms, -- are sided 12 inches, and moulded about 23 inches in the angles, and have 18 bolts and 4 spikes in each. Of course towards the ends they vary in size, but still they are very stout. The knees in the between decks are of hacmatack, and vary little in dimensions or fastening from those below. Her hold stanchions are of oak, and vary from 12 inches to 10 inches square, and are kneed to the beams above and to the keelson below. In the between-decks they are of oak, 9 inches in diameter, turned and secured with iron rods through their centres. She has 7 hooks forward, and 5 aft, including the deck hooks; and in each end two of the hooks cross the cants diagonally, and connect with the beams. She has also pointers forward and aft.
The between decks are 7 feet 8 inches high, and their waterways are 15 inches square, the strake inside of them 9 by 12, dovetailed over the beams, and the strake over them 10 by 15. All these strakes and the waterways are cross-bolted, vertically and horizontally, and seem firm enough to last forever. The ceiling up to the deck is 6 by 11 inches, and the planking of both decks is 3½ inches thick.
The upper deck waterways are 12 inches square, with two thick strakes inside of them, let down over the beams, and these and the waterways are cross bolted. Her bulwarks are 4½ feet high, surmounted by a monkey rail of 20 inches, and her bulwark stanchions are of oak, very close together, and are well fastened.
Her garboards are 7½ inches thick, the next plank 6, the third 5 which is graduated to 4½, the substance of her bottom. The garboards are crossbolted through the keel, and up through the floor timbers and the ceiling, and riveted, and the others are all square fastened. The treenails through them are of locust, and the bolts copper. Her wales are 5½ by 6½, and extend up to within 18 inches of her planksheer. She has three narrow strakes of waist, which are defined by a moulding of the upper wale. Her planksheer, or covering board, and the main rail are each 6 inches thick, and are moulded outside and inside.
The frame is of seasoned white oak, and her scantling and deck frames of hard pine, and besides being thoroughly copper fastened, many of her treenails are of locust. In materials and fastening, she is certainly one of the best vessels of her class afloat. Her frame is seasoned with salt, and she has brass ventilators along the line of her planksheer, and all her bitts. Besides these ordinary means of ventilation, she has two of Emerson's patent ventilators forward, and one upon the quarter deck, the last of polished brass. One of those forward draws up a column of air from the bottom of the hold, through a flue of ten inches in diameter, and the other an equal column from the between decks, while that upon the quarter deck blows down a column into the between decks. They are all constructed so as to exclude water, and will be kept in operation in all weathers. In seasoning and ventilation, she is as complete as a ship need be.
In model she is very sharp forward and aft, but has rounded lines. The whole rake of her stern is 5 feet; her sternpost is upright, and her stern curvilinear. Opposite the sternpost, over all, she is 27 feet wide, and her stern on deck extends 8 feet from the post. It is in depth about three feet below the line of the planksheer, and somewhat resembles the round sterns of ships of war. It is bold and massive in its outline, is ornamented with a huge serpent, which is represented in the act of uncoiling himself for a march.
Her head is long and rakish, and is ornamented with a tiger, represented crouched, ready for a spring. Along the trailboards and around the hawse-holes are ornamented with carved branches, which, together with her other ornamental work, are tastefully bronzed. The lines of her planksheer and main rail are carried forward in unbroken sweep, until they terminate in the head. Outside she is painted black from the copper to the rail, and inside buff color, relieved with white. She is coppered up to 17½ feet forward, and to 18½ feet aft.
On deck she has a small topgallant forecastle, the height of the main rail, with a capstan on it, and has in its after wings two water closets for the use of the crew.
The sailors' accommodations are below forward, and are beautifully fitted up, well lighted and ventilated. Her long boat, galley, &c., are secured amidships before the main hatchway, and as she has no houses amidships, but what range with the boat, her decks forward are very roomy. She has patent pumps, and abaft the mainmast a square iron tank her whole depth, capable of holding 4000 gallons of water. On the quarter deck she has a beautiful capstan; also four lever winches, two on each side, one forward and the other aft. Her windlass is a powerful machine and is strongly secured, and the chain lockers are in the between decks near the foremast.
She has a half-poop deck 45 feet long, and the height of the main rail. In its front, and partly overlapping it, is a house of 10 by 20 feet, and 7 feet high. This house forms a protection to the entrance of the cabin. The great cabin aft has eight state-rooms and two water-closets, and is splendidly finished with mahogany wainscotting and cornices, relieved with highly polished, dark wood pilasters, edged with gilding, and having imitation marble pedestals and capitals, edged with gilding. The transom is fitted as a sofa, and all the cabin furniture is of the choicest kind, tastefully arranged. For every state-room there is a deck and side-light, and over the cabin a large skylight. The forward cabin contains the pantry, and state-rooms for the officers, and is neatly painted and grained. Her accommodations throughout, forward and aft, reflect great credit on the liberality of her owners.
She has a patent steering apparatus, and is will found in boats and ground tackle, and has a liberal supply of stores. She is a full-rigged ship, and her masts rake, commencing with the fore, 1, 1¼ and 1½ inches to the foot. The following are the dimensions of the masts and yards.
|Diameter, Inches.||Length, Feet.||Mast heads, Feet.|
|Skysail||6||12||pole .. 10|
|Skysail||6½||13||pole .. 12|
|Skysail||5||10½||pole .. 8|
|Fore||17||68||yard arms .. 4½|
The bowsprit is 30 inches in diameter, 32 feet outboard, and has 4 inches steve to a foot; jibboom 16 inches in diameter, 44 feet outside of the cap, divided at 24½ feet for the inner jib and at 20 feet for the outer one; flying jibboom 7¾ inches in diameter, and 19 feet outside of the wythe, including 4 feet end; spanker boom 48 feet, end 3; gaff 36, end 4; main spencer gaff 24, with 4 feet end, and the other spars in proportion. Her lower masts are single sticks with longs supporters; and the topmasts, topgallant masts and jibbooms are of hard pine. We have examined the workmanship of her spars with considerable attention, and have no hesitation in stating that they vie in strength and neatness with those of any ship of her class that we have seen. They were made by Messrs. Blanchard & Caldwell, who, also, among many other vessels, made the spars for the clipper barques George E. Webster and Bhering. Mr. Blanchard is well known as one of the best spar makers in this vicinity.
She has four-stranded patent rigging, fitted in excellent style; and all the chains and iron work aloft and about the bowsprit, now in general use. Aloft she looks uncommonly taunt -- more so than any vessel of her size that we have ever seen; but as she has great stability, she is expected to carry her canvas nobly. In cordage, blocks, and other details, she is most liberally found, and nothing seems to have been omitted in her equipment that could contribute to her success.
Her model was made by Mr. Samuel H. Pook, son of the talented naval constructor of the Charlestown Navy Yard, and we understand that all scientific details embraced in her construction were so draughted by him. She was built at Chelsea by Messrs. Curtis & Taylor, and it is but doing them simple justice to state that she is the best built ship that either of them ever built. They have cause to feel proud of their work. She is commanded by Capt. Rogers, who is an active and enterprising sailor, and will no doubt make her "walk the waters like a thing of life".
Messrs. Richard S. Rogers and W.D. Pickman, of Salem, own her, and intend her for the California and China trade.
She is the largest vessel belonging to Salem, and one of the best and most beautiful that wears the stripes and stars. She is now at New York, and will there load for California. Success to her.
Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius.
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Copyright © 1997 Lars Bruzelius.