During the past two years several beautiful clipper-barques have been built in this vicinity. all of which, with, perhaps a single exception, have fully answered the expectation of their designers. The exception to which we allude, was the sharpest, and so far as beauty of outline was concerned, one of the most beautiful, but her builder informed us that the sparring of her was intrusted to an incompetent person, and hence her partial failure. The others, among which we may mention the Dragon, Racehorse, and George E. Webster, have all performed well; yet, in model they all differ from one another. Their success, therefore, speaks well for the skill of our mechanics. The Mermaid may be said to combine all the fine qualities of those which have been built before her; for her builder, Mr. Hall, has a keen eye, and soon perceives the essential points to obtain a desired result. Speed, without special references to capacity, was the quality desired by her owners, and this quality, combined with rare beauty of outline, we think he has obtained. He has built more sharp vessels than any other in this vicinity, and thus far, has been eminently successful. We, therefore, have the fullest confidence that the Mermaid will not be surpassed in speed by any vessel of her class that he has yet built. In beauty of outline, we cannot perceive where she could be altered for the better. As a whole. or in detail, she is nearly as perfect as the skill of man could suggest.
She will register about 540 tons, is 132 feet long on the keel, 139 on deck, and 145 over all, has 29 feet, 3 inches breadth of beam, 15 depth of hold, 2 feet dead rise at half-floor, 6 inches rounding or swell of sides, 25 inches sheer, and 2 feet drag line. Her whole depth of keel is 28 inches, the rake of her stem 4 feet, flare of the bow, above the line of the planksheer, 4 feet, and her stern, above the same line, rakes 2 feet; but the sternpost is upright. The stern itself on deck projects 6 feet beyond the sternpost, and at the sternpost over all is 19 feet wide. Her bow is sharp, but its lines are rounded, and it is carried up with a bold and striking spring, which imparts to the eye a picture of the beautiful in naval architecture. Her great flare gives her fullness of outline on the rail, but it harmonizes with the sweep of her lines below. A mermaid, with comb and glass in hand, as if in the act of saying -- "Sheer off, sheer off, bold mariner, you are too nigh the land," ornaments the bow. The design was obtained from Mr. Stevenson, a distinguished artist, and was copied by the carver. It is placed to correspond with the rake of the stem, and seems to have grown out of the ornamental work, representations of kelp, upon the trail boards.
Her channels are below the line of the planksheer, the moulding of which is beautifully bronzed. Her head, and other ornamental work, are also bronzed. This style of ornamental coloring is decidedly neat, and sets the vessel off to great advantage.
Broadside on, her graceful swell, and dashy sheer, for she rises boldly forward make her look the clipper in every hue. Her stern is rounded, and drops two strakes below the line of the planksheer. It is very neat, and corresponds well with her outline forward. The run like the bow is clean, without having been hollowed out under the quarters. She has sufficient buoyancy aft to prevent her settling below her true water line, however fast she may fly through the water.
She is coppered up to 13 feet forward and 15 ft aft, and above there her hull is painted black, except the ornamental work, which as before remarked, is either gilded or bronzed.
On deck she has a small topgallant forecastle, and abaft the foremast a house 32 feet long by 10½ wide, and 6½ high. This house contains quarters for the crew, a galley, and the forward part of it is arranged for stock pens, &c. It is well designed, inside, and tastefully set off with panels outside.
Her bulwarks above the planksheer are 2½ feet high, surmounted by a monkey rail of 17 inches. These, inside, are set off with panels and mouldings, and are painted white.
She has a half poop deck, the height of the main rail, and 35 feet long, with a square house in front, which partly overlaps the deck aft. This house forms an anteroom to the cabin, which is 4 feet below the line of the main deck. The cabin is lofty, well lighted and ventilated, and beautifully wainscotted, set off with enamelled pilasters, gilded carved work, and other ornaments. It contains 4 state-rooms, a pantry, two waterclosets, and is furnished with all that can conduce to the comfort of its occupants.
She has a patent windlass, a patent steering apparatus, a beautiful capstan, made of locust and mahogany, inlaid with composition -- substantial ground tackle, three boats, two of which stow on a gallows frame over the quarter deck -- a large iron tank abaft the mainmast, capable of holding nearly 2000 gallons of water and two good pumps with copper chambers.
Her chain lockers are in the hold, before the main-hatchway, where they ought to be in all sharp vessels.
The style of her construction is worthy of notice. Her keel is of rock maple, moulded 28 and sided 14 inches; floor timbers on the keel 11 by 13, keelson 14 inches square, and rider 13 inches square; these are all bolted in the usual style, with copper and iron, the copper driven through and rivetted, and the iron blunt into the keel. On the floor her ceiling is 3 inches thick; on the bilge the first strake is of 5 inches thickness, then there are 2 strakes of 6; above that, the ceiling is of 4½ inches; the clamp under the hold beams is 7½; the waterways over them 10½ in two thicknesses, and the rest of the ceiling 4½, all scarphed and square fastened. Her between decks are laid to the after part of the main hatchway aft, and to the fore part of the fore hatchway forward. The rest of the hold is open, but she has as many beams below, except two, as she has under deck. The hold beams are secured with lodging knees, but those under the upper deck have hanging knees also. The hold beams are of hard pine, 12 by 13 inches amidships, and the deck beams are 7 by 13, and the deck is of clear white pine, 3 inches thick. Her stanchions are strongly secured, and the combings of her hatchways are of polished mahogany, lined with composition.
Her upper deck water ways are 9 by 13 inches, the two strakes inside of them 4 inches thick, and the planksheer and main rail are each 5 inches thick, fastened with composition.
Her garboard are 5 inches thick, and the rest of her planking outside varies from 3½ to 4 inches flush to the covering board. Her frame is mostly of white oak, also her breast and after hooks, stanchions, bitts, bulwark-stanchions, &c. She is copper fastened, treenailed with locust, seasoned with salt, and has brass ventilators along the line of her planksheer and in the bitts. Nothing seems wanting wither in strength or beauty, to make her all that she ought to be.
She has Forbes's rig, in our opinion, the best square rig that has yet been adopted. The following are the dimensions of her masts and yards.
|Dimensions, Inches.||Length, Feet.||Mast-heads, Feet.|
The bowsprit is we inches in diameter, 24 feet outboard, and 14½ inboard; jibboom 12¼ inches in diameter, divided at 17 and 12 feet for the inner and outer jib, with 3 feet end; spanker boom 42 feet long; gaff 34, and main spencer gaff, 19. She has iron eyes to her lower rigging, iron futtock rigging, and all the other chain and iron work, now in general use. Her spars and rigging are of the best quality, and are remarkably well turned out of hand. Mr. Henry Pigeon made her spars, and she was rigged by Capt. Brewster of East Boston. We advise those who have not seen her to inspect her carefully, for there are many details embraced in her outfits that we have not the space to notice, but which are worthy of admiration.
She was built at East Boston, by Mr. Samuel Hall, and is owned by Messrs. Edward Gassett & Co., of this city. Capt. Smith, and enterprising and intelligent sailor, commands her. We have known him many years, and can say that he has passed through all the grades of his profession in a manner honorable to himself and satisfactory to those for who he has sailed. His beautiful vessel is now lying at the north side of Commercial wharf, loading for San Francisco, and will be ready for sea in a few days. From San Francisco she will proceed to China, and will there trade along the coast. We have no hesitation in saying, that she is one of the most beautiful vessels of her class that we ever saw; and that she is well built, and liberally found. Good luck to her.
Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius.
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Copyright © 1997 Lars Bruzelius.