This beautiful vessel, since her arrival here, has been visited by thousands, and so far as we know, has been an object of unqualified admiration. Accustomed as our people are to see in some of our sharpest vessels, but modifications of the general model, it may be considered highly complimentary that a ship, so different from what has been considered the usual standard, should be awarded any praise whatever. Any person conversant with nautical affairs must be aware that several of our finest clippers were far from being generally approved; not because they were deficient in either beauty or strength, but because they were different from what we had been accustomed to see. The invariable remark was - "Beautiful vessels to look at, but too sharp to pay." The profitable freights obtained by many of these sharp vessels, however, have partially dissipated this idea, and now a new clipper is not universally regarded as a costly experiment. The splendid appearance of the Witch of the Wave has made us forget our prejudices, and to receive her with pleasure - to regard as an honor to the genius and skill of her designer and builder, and the princely liberality of her owners, for, to the taste of the owners, who after all have to foot the bills, must be aware the prime credit for having such a costly vessel built.
Her register is 1498 91-95ths tons. On the keel she is 191 feet long, between the perpendiculars (government measurement) 202, and over all 220 - she has 40 feet breadth of beam, 21 feet depth of hold, including 7 feet height of between decks, 40 inches dead rise at half floor, 6 inches curve of sides, and 3½ feet sheer on the line of the covering board; but the sweep of the rails is modified so that over all her extreme outline is almost straight. Her bow, however, is carried boldly up to the very bowsprit, and presents an unbroken angle along its every line. She has two stems, the first inside, out of sight, to which the apron, breast hooks and other heavy work are bolted, and diverging from it is the second stem or cutwater, to which her hood ends are bolted. The space between these is framed in, and through this frame the planking is bolted. Her cutwater, therefore, is the complete vertix of a plain spherical angle, for it is tapered down to correspond with the surface of the planking, with sufficient overlap to protect the hood ends. A female figure, beautiful as an houri, and placed to correspond with the spring of the bow, ornaments her forward. The figure is represented in flowing vestments of white, fringed with gold; and she bears aloft a scarf, half unfurled by the breeze. From her pedestal descend branches of gold, which also encircle the hawsehole. Her name, in gilded letters, is on the monkey rail, close abaft the bowsprit; and on the end of each cathead is a gilded head; but the most remarkable features of her ornamental work forward are her eyes, one glowering from each bow, as if scanning the foaming deep before. As she is planked up to the bowsprit, without either head or trail boards, no matter how heavily she may plunge, when she rises, like a duck, she can raise no water with her.
The elegant ease with which her bow is carried up, is continued in her gradual sheer along the side, until it terminated in the stern, the outline of which is perfectly oval. Her run is rounded, and the planking of the sides and quarters is moulded to correspond. She has no apparent transom outside, but the stern is at once from the rudder case, with a slight rake aft as it rises. Upon it is a representation of her name, floating in a shell, with an imp, on the larboard side, riding a dolphin, and on the opposite side other members of the finny family sporting in the sea. Above these is her name, in gilded letters, and below it her port of hail, with a star on each side and a wreath of roses below, the whole enclosed in a gilded frame. The principal figures are painted white, relieved with gilding on either side. No pains has been spared to render the stern a perfect picture. Her name, in gilded letters, is also placed on her bulwarks, between the main and mizen rigging.
She is planked up flush to the planksheer, and is painted black outside, with a red water line along the edge of her copper, and she is coppered up to 18 feet 9 inches forward, and to 19 feet 8 inches aft.
The whole height of her bulwarks is about 6 feet in the waist, but, of course, higher forward and lower aft. Her topgallant forecastle is thirty-two feet in length, and is divided amidships on each side of the bowsprit, and fitted for the accommodation of the crew. In its after wings, outside, are two water closets. It is rendered water-tight and is well ventilated and lighted, and made as comfortable as the space would admit.
Abaft the foremast is a house, 40½ feet long, 14 wide and 6½ high, the forward part of which contains the galley, a state-room, &c., for the use of the cook. Its larboard after section contains the long boat, which is secured on rollers, so that, when required, it can be brought to the gangway ready for hoisting out, with ease and despatch.
The opposite side if the house contains state-rooms for the forward officers, such as the boatswain, carpenter, &c., and has other useful divisions.
Her poop deck is the height if the rack rail, and has a square portico in front which protects the entrance to the cabins, and is fitted inside as an armory.
She has three cabins, the first contains the captain's state-room on the starboard side, which overlooks that side of the main deck, and near it is a state-room for the steward. Abaft these, on the same side, is the pantry. On the opposite side, are state-rooms for the officers and a water closet.
This cabin is wainscotted and grained, and forms an ante-room to that abaft it, which is the great cabin. Here is splendor. Gothic panels of bird's eye maple, with frames of satin wood, relieved with zebra, mahogany and rose wood, enameled cornices edged with gold, and dark pilasters, with curiously carved and gilded capitals, and dark imitation marble pedestals. Abaft it is another cabin, finished in the same style, and having three panels of mirrors forward, and another mirror aft in the rudder-casing. The transom is fitted as a semi-circular sofa, covered with rich velvet. Her after cabins contain seven large state-rooms, and two water closets, and their furniture, together with that of the state-room, is truly magnificent. With large sky-lights, deck and side-lights in every state-room, perforated ventilators between the beams, the whole cabin arrangements are light and abundantly ventilated. Among many minor arrangements in her cabin is a neatly designed medicine closet in the great cabin, and also in the forward cabin speaking tubes which lead to the captain's and mates' state-rooms from the deck, so that any of these gentlemen may be called without leaving the deck. She has also a library of over one hundred volumes.
The arrangements of her cabins, beautiful and complete as they are, but correspond with her other details. Everything connected with her is a nearly perfect as could be desired.
She has a patent anchors, double hawse holes on each side, and her chain lockers are below abaft the fore-mast. Her pumps are of the New York patent, with fly wheels, and abaft the mainmast she has a circular iron tank, capable of holding 4000 gallons of water. She has two beautiful capstans with brass heads, lever winches forward and aft along the sides, and Mr. Lewis H. Priest's patent steering apparatus, acknowledged the best that has yet been invented.
She has stout quarter boats, and a large spare boat independent of the long boat, already noticed. These details will convey some idea of her hull and its accommodations and furniture; we shall now endeavour to review the style of her construction.
Her keel is of rock maple, in three depths, moulded 3 feet 3 inches, and sided 15 inches, bolted together with copper. The floor timbers on the keel are moulded 16 inches, and sided 12, and her timbers are graduated to 6½ inches moulded, at the gunwales. Through the first keelson every floor timber and the keel is an inch-and-a-quarter copper bolt driven through and rivetted, and through the second keelson and every navel timber is an iron bolt of the same size, driven blunt into the keel. From the top of the keelson to the base of the keel is 7 feet 7½ inches. the angle of her limbers is filled in with sister keelsons out flush to the ceiling; and the first sister keelson is 15 inches square, bolted at right angles, and also diagonally through every navel timber into the keel. The other keelsons outside, are graduated in substance to correspond with the rise of the floor, and are all cross-bolted.
The ceiling on the floor is 4½ inches thick, and the thick work on the bilge commences with 12 inches thick, which is graduated to 7 inches up to the beams, without any projection; and all is square fastened, one bolt having been driven from the inside, through every strake in every timber, and the others from the outside and riveted upon the inside. The lower deck beams are of hard pine, sided 16 inches and moulded 15, and the stanchions under them are of white oak 10 inches square, strapped with iron and kneed above and below. There are 40 hanging knees in the hold, sided from 10 to 12 inches. they have 5 feet bodies, 3 feet 8 inches arms, are moulded from 18 to 21 inches in the angles, and have 18 bolts and 4 spikes in each knee. The lodging knees are sided 8 inches, and moulded 14, and meet and scarph in every berth, and are closely bolted. Her dead wood forward and aft, apron, and stern knee are remarkably stout and strongly secured. She has three massive hooks in each end, two of which - forward and aft - are connected with the knees under the beams, and bolted in the most substantial style.
The between decks waterways are 15 inches square, the strake inside of them 12 by 9, and that over them 9 by 14, cross bolted, and the ceiling above is 5 inches thick, square fastened. All the heavy work above and below is scarphed, and as before remarked, square fastened. The lower deck plank is of hard pine, 3½ thick. The upper deck beans are 42 in number, sided 14 inches and moulded 8½. and under them are oak turned stanchions, having cast iron sockets above and below, and secured with 1½ inch bolts through their centres, which set up below with nut-screws. The hanging knees are sided 10 inches, and moulded 20 in the throats, have 4 feet bodies, (the ends of which rest on the standing strake over the waterways,) 3 feet 7 inches arms, and 20 bolts and 4 spikes in each. The breast hook extends 15 feet on each side of the apron, is sided 11 inches and moulded 4 feet in the throat, with 46 bolts in it, varying from 1 1/8 to 1 inch in size.
Her between decks, as already noticed, are 7 feet high, and are finished in beautiful style. The hanging knees are grained, and the lower parts of the beams are bright and varnished, the standing strake over the waterways is painted granite color, the waterways blue, and the rest of the work white.
The upper deck waterways are 14 inches square, handsomely worked off with mouldings on the top and bottom, and the deck plank is of seasoned white pine, 3½ by 6 inches, clear of knots or flaws. The planking of the poop and topgallant forecastle is also of the same wood, finished in beautiful style.
Her garboards are 7 inches thick, cross bolted, and the strakes outside of them are graduated to 4 inches, the substance of the planking on the bottom, and her wales are 5½ by 7, carried up flush to the planksheer, and outside, from the water to the rail, she is finished as smooth as class. Her treenails and butt and bilge bolts have been driven with great care, and finished in beautiful style. Her planksheer is of Southern pine, 5½ inches thick, with a handsome moulding inside and outside, and her main rail is of the same substance, by 20 inches wide. There are stout clamps above and below the main rail, inside and outside, the first of which forms the monkey rail, and second fills in the space between the main and rack rails -- all combined, forming a solid belt around the top of her bulwarks, but finished to correspond with even the smallest mouldings of the bulwarks outside.
The inside of the rack rail is covered with yellow metal, and the bulwarks, house, &c., are painted white. The house in the front of the cabin is beautifully wainscotted, its top ornamented with carved cornices interwoven with gilding, and it has a stained glass window in front. Her deck room is truly magnificent, and the style of its arrangement admirably adapted for working ship.
Her frame is of white oak, the growth of New Hampshire, and her ceiling, planking, &c., of the best of hard pine. The details of her fastening, show that she is well built; she is also seasoned with salt, has brass ventilators along her planksheer and in her bitts, and Emerson's patent ventilators fore and aft.
Her bowsprit and windlass bitts pass through all the decks, and step in the hold and are kneed in every deck. Her mast partners, hatchways, &c., are also strongly kneed, and the bow is planked up to the extreme perfectly water tight.
A view of her decks from either end is a sight worth seeing, every detail is so perfect, so beautifully arranged.
She is a full rigged ship. The distance from her main stem to the centre of the foremast is 45 feet, thence to the main 67, to the mizzen 53, and from that point to the stern post 37, and her masts rake, commencing with the fore, 1¼, 1½, and 1¾ inches to the feet.
The following are the dimensions of her masts and yards:-
|Dimensions, Inches.||Length, Feet.||Mast heads, Feet.|
|Skysail||8||11||pole .. 2½|
|Skysail||6½||12||pole .. 3|
|Skysail||6||9½||pole .. 2|
|Fore||19½||71||yard arms .. 4½|
The bowsprit is 30 inches in diameter, and 28 feet outside of the main stem, and the jibboom 17 inches in diameter, and 35 feet outside of the cap, divided at 20 and 15 feet for the standing and flying jibs, with 7 feet end; spanker boom 50, and gaff 38, main spencer gaff 28, and fore spencer gaff 27 feet.
She has a noble set of spars, rigged in the first style of seamanship. Her main rigging is of 10½ inch, and all her standing rigging is of the best Russia hemp, four stranded, served over the ends with marling, and covered over the eyes with canvas. She has iron futtock rigging and double chain topsail ties, that is, she has blocks on her topsail yards, and the standing parts of the ties are fast to the mast-heads, instead of single ties and runners abaft the masts. Her jibboom guys are spread by outriggers from the catheads, and are backed by chains which are secured to the chocks of the swinging booms. In most of the other details of her rigging, she is nearly the same as the other clippers which we have described. She carries spencers fore and aft, a crossjack course, main topgallant staysail, and mizen topmast staysail, and all the other sails belonging to a ship of her class.
Aloft she looks splendidly. Her long mast-heads, crowned with gilded spires and balls, her truly proportioned yards and neat rigging, set her off to great advantage. Whatever credit may be due to the builder, and all who have seen her will admit that he has earned high praise, still the mind who designed and superintended her equipment, and the owners who have so liberally furnished the means, must not be lost sight of. To the owners' taste the mechanics are indebted for this opportunity of displaying their skill.
Although this is a long description of the Witch of the Wave, still there are many details about her which we have not noticed, but which will attract the attention of nautical men. No written description can convey even a fair idea of her. To use a common, but appropriate phrase, -- to be appreciated she must be seen.
Capt. Hunt, one of our most experienced pilots, and a gentleman who has paid more than ordinary attention to every kind of model which has come under his observation, speaks of her in the highest terms. From what we saw her perform on the passage from Portsmouth to Salem, he feels confident that she will fully answer the expectation of her owners. From our own knowledge we can state that her commander, Capt. Millett, is every way qualified to do her justice. He will make her perform her best.
She was built at Portsmouth, N.H., by Mr. George Raynes, and is owned by Messrs. Glidden & Williams, and Twombly & Lamson, of Boston; John Bertram, of Salem, and Flint, Peabody & Co., of San Francisco, and is intended for the California and China trade. Her spars were made by Messrs. Martin & Fernald, and were rigged by Mr. Harrat; Mr. Walker made her sails; Mr. Wilson executed her joiner work, all of Portsmouth; and Mr. J.W. Mason, of this city, designed and carved her ornamental work. Like a good artist, his last work is his best.
She is now laden, and will sail this day for San Francisco. Never was a ship more appropriately named -- she is indeed the Witch of the Wave.
Boston Daily Atlas, May 19, 1851.
Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius.
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