The New Clipper Ship Challenge, of New York.

New York has long been famous on the ocean for the speed and beauty of her ships. Her central position as the great mart of American commerce, combined with her daring enterprise and more than princely liberality of her merchants, have nursed and stimulated the genius of her mechanics; and hence, in every department of naval architecture, as well as other commercial pursuits, the capitalist can always find the genius and skill to give form and substance to his ideas. In no department of naval architecture has the desire to excel, to surpass, been more manifested than in the construction of clippers. No sooner had the short passages of the ships Samuel_Russell and Sea Witch to San Francisco, demonstrated the advantages of clippers for that trade, than many of our enterprising merchants designed to build a class of ships that would surpass these in speed, as far as they surpassed other vessels. Ships of fifteen, sixteen, and as large as eighteen hundred tons, were called into existence in a few months, and still the desire to surpass had not abated. Determined to be first upon the "world of waters," Messrs. N.L. & G. Griswold, of New York, designed a ship to be named the Challenge. She was to be of 2000 tons register, of faultless beauty, matchless speed, and unquestionable strength; and Mr. Webb, the first of mechanics, was selected to build her. She is now afloat and rigged. The modul and all the other details were left to the builder's skill, without reference to cost, the owners contracting only for the results. The Challenge, therefore, is the embodiment of her builder's idea of the perfect in naval architecture, and his reputation is thus practically pledged for her success. That nothing might be wanting on the part of the owners, they obtained the services of the first of sailors to command her. Capt. Robt. H. Waterman, whose name is associated with the shortest passages on record from China, superintended her construction and equipment, and to his skill as a sailor, without trenching upon the province of the builder, may be attributed her completeness aloft. -- With a commander of such undoubted skill and daring, all that the Challenge can do she will be made to do.

She is 224 feet long on the keel, 240 feet 6 inches on deck, between perpendiculars, and 252 feet 6 inches from the chock over the bowsprit to the taffrail, and is the longest sailing ship in the world. She is 27 feet 7 inches longer between perpendiculars than the Pennsylvania line-of-battle-ship. The Challenge's extreme breadth of beam, which is forward of the centre, is 43 feet, breadth at the gunwales 41 feet; depth 25½ feet, including 7 feet 8 inches between each of her decks -- for she has three decks -- and she will register about two thousand tons. The angle of her bow, at the load displacement line, is 15, and of her stern 17 degrees. Her estimated load line is at 20 feet draught; and her lines are concave forward and aft. A chord of 40 feet, drawn from the stem to the turn of the bow, shows the greatest concavity or hollow of the bow, at the load line, to be 6 inches, and her run, from a chord of 20 feet in length, to be 7 inches. Below, of course, the lines are more concave, but along her sides they are boldly convex. There is not, strictly speaking, a straight line in her model. She has 42 inches dead rise at half-floor, 12 inches rounding of sides, and 3 feet sheer. Her sternpost is upright, and the whole inclination or rake of her stem on deck, is about 12 feet.

The angles of her ends, and the rise of her floor show that she is the sharpest, as well as the longest sailing vessel in the world.

Her sheer is not sudden or marked by any peculiarity, but is truly graduated along her whole length, presenting an outline of perfect beauty. Her bow rises nobly, and although its lines are concave below, yet as they ascend they become gently modified, still preserving their angular form; and, on the rail, blend in perfect harmony with her general outline. A gilded eagle, represented on the wing, and an eye on each cat-head, are her only ornaments forward. The bow is plain to nudity, compared with other ships, but beautiful beyond the power of words to describe. It has neither head nor trail-boards, nor even chocks around the hawseholes, nor is it lumbered with rigging. The head stays lead through the bows, and set up inboard; the bowsprit shrouds and bobstay, are therefore the only standing rigging secured to the bow, and these all set up to the bowsprit.

She has a narrow waist, defined between the mouldings of the upper wale and the planksheer. The moulding along the wale is gilded and extends from the talons of the eagle round the stern.

Her stern is elliptical, and slightly inclined aft, but is formed close to the rudder-case. Its outline at the moulding of the wale is apparently semi-circular, but as it rises it becomes clearly elliptical, to correspond with her outline on the rail.

Above the line of the planksheer it is ornamented with gilded branches, conspicuous among which are the arms of the United States, in bas-relief. Her name and port of hail -- Challenge, New York -- in gilded letters, are below.

The upper wale is continued round the stern, and the planking of the run s carried up to it.

She is sheathed with yellow metal up to 20 feet forward and to 21 feet aft, and except the ornamental work, she is painted black up to the rail. Her sides are smooth as cabinet work and every line and moulding is graduated to correspond with her sheer. End or broadside on, her appearance is truly beautiful; if cast in a mould she could not have been more perfect to the eye.

Her deck room is spacious and admirably arranged for working ship. The whole height of her bulwarks, including the monkey rail, is only 4½ feet, and inside they are paneled and painted white, and the waterways green. Their stanchions are of locust, bright on the outer square, and the rack rail, which is of oak, is also bright, and extends from the topgallant forecastle to the poop.

Her topgallant forecastle is the height of the main rail -- has a capstan on it, and extends aft to the windlass. From the windlass to the poop her deck amidships may be briefly described as follows: -- Companion which protects the entrance to the sailors' quarters below -- fore hatchway -- main stay bitts, before the foremast -- hatchway abaft the foremast -- a house, which contains the galley and a state-room fitted with berths -- the launch -- the main hatchway -- the mainmast and pumps -- hatchway -- capstan -- hatchway -- mizzen mast, and abaft it another hatchway, and before the centre of the poop, the wheel. Her half poop is only 20 feet long, and has a skylight on it, amidships. Except the spanker sheets, vangs and signal halliards, all her running rigging leads on the same deck, so that, in working ship, there will be no running up or down stairs.

All the hatchways, except the main, have raised covers, with glass in the sides, which renders the deck below light, and if open, airy. The frames of the hatchways, the mastpartners on deck and the fife rails around the masts, are all of East India teak, and the combings of the hatchways, and gangway boards are of mahogany. The corners of the bitts are inlaid with brass, and her captains have brass heads and composition pauls.

Her windlass is strongly secured, and is of the latest patent, having ends which can be ungeared from the body. Before the foremast is a double lever winch, for hauling the chain cable up, or for any other heavy work. Her chain lockers are abaft the foremast, on the lower deck, and the pipes through which the chains pass are covered by the fore part of the galley. She has three anchors, the total weight of which is 13,378 lbs., besides a stream anchor and chain. Her cables are each 120 fathoms in length, one of inch and seven-eighths, and the other of two inches, and in each bow she has two hawse holes. Her ground tackle and the details connected therewith, have been made to surpass the strictest requirements of Lloyd's.

She has five boats, the first a launch 26 feet long, 9 wide and 3½ deep, double planked and modelled for sailing or rowing, having a jib and mainsail, and rowlocks for 12 oars. The next are two cutters, carver built, 27 feet long, 7 wide, and 2 feet 9 inches deep, also fitted for sailing and rowing; each having the same number of oars as the launch. The third cutter is 25 feet long, 5 feet 5 inches wide, and 2 feet 4 inches deep, to be rowed by 5 oars. The captain's gig is 30 feet long, 5 wide, 3 feet 3 inches deep, is clincher built, to be rowed with 6 oars. These boats are all built of white oak and cedar; are copper fastened, have brass rowlocks, and are furnished with sails, awnings, water breakers, &c.

Her pumps are of copper, have 8 inch chambers, and work with engine breaks, and throw their water on the upper deck. She has also a powerful force pump for washing upper decks and wetting sails, and may answer the purpose of an engine in case of fire.

Opposite the fore and main rigging on each side, she has powerful lever winches, secured to massive bitts, which extend through the deck below, and are secured there. These are well clear of the sides, leaving ample space for the men to work around them.

The decks are of white pine, the planking uniform in width, and clear of knots or flaws. Of all the vessels which we have seen, not even excepting ships of war, we do not recollect one whose deck room for working ship is so spacious and well arranged as that of the Challenge. Her appearance on deck, as well as outside, is not surpassed in beauty by any vessel afloat.

The accommodations for her crew are forward on the main deck, and are fitted with berths for fifty men. The forecastle has four plate glass air ports, and is otherwise well lighted and ventilated.

She has two cabins, the first under the poop, with two doors in front, one on each side of the wheel. It is fitted for the accommodation of her officers, and forms an ante-room to the great cabin below. In the upper cabin her tiller traverses close to the beams, and her steering apparatus consists of a gun tackle purchase, on each side, brought to a roller on the end of the shaft which passes through the heart of the wheel outside.

The great cabin contains six staterooms, &c., and is wainscotted with oak and rosewood, set off with elliptically arched panels, relieved with oak pillared pilasters, and enamelled cornices, ornamented with exquisite carving. The corners of the beams are also fringed with beautiful carving, and edged with gold. The transom forms a semi-circular sofa, and forward there is another sofa, both covered with rich green and gold brocatel. In the forward partition is a splendid mirror, which gives a reflected view of the cabin abaft it. In every stateroom there is a deck and side light, and the cabin furniture throughout is in perfect keeping with her other appointments. The pantry is before the cabin, and alongside of it is a door which leads into the main deck.

She has two iron tanks, one the whole depth of the vessel, and capable of containing 6000 gallons of water, and the other 2000. The main deck has three large cargo ports in each side, which will greatly facilitate she shipment and discharge of cargo. These have iron gratings inside, and regular ports outside, like a ship of war. This deck has also plate glass air ports, and all the other means of light and ventilation now in use on board of passenger ships. The paint-work of this deck in white, and the waterways blue; and the hanging knees, stanchions, the lower squares of the beams, carlines and ledges, are bright and varnished.

The waterways of the lower deck are painted lead color, and in the other details it is nearly the same as the main deck, excepting, of course, the side-lights, &c. Although designed for the California and China trade, yet the arrangements of her decks are as admirably designed for the accommodating of passengers, as those of a fine class European packet.

These details will give some idea of the ship's outline, her accommodations, &c. We will now endeavour to give the leading particulars of her construction. Her keel is of white oak, in two depths, bolted together with copper, and sided 16 and moulded 38 inches. The floor timbers are sided from 12 to 14 inches, and moulded 17½, and every one is bolted through the keel with 1 7/8 inch copper. Her first keelson is bolted with iron through the timbers, down into the first depth of the keel, and the second keelson in equally well secured. Fifty feet of her keelsons forward, and sixty feet aft, are of live oak; the other parts are of hard pine. From the top of the keelson to the base of the keel is 8½ feet;

The stem is of white oak, all in one piece, sided 16 inches at the heel, and 18 at the head, and moulded from 3½ to 2½. The apron is sided 34 inches, and moulded to correspond with the form of the bow. Both stem and apron are closely bolted with copper up to 24 feet, and above there with iron.

The stern-post is sided the same as the stern, and moulded in like proportion; and the false post, sternknees, &c., are bolted in the most substantial style.

All the frames forward of the foremast, all abaft the mizzenmast, all the top-timbers, and all the fourth futtocks amidships, and the dead-wood forward and aft, are of live oak. The frames are bolted together with 1 inch iron, and are made of uniform substance, dressed fair and smooth on all sides, and are braced diagonally with iron 4 inches wide, and ¾ of an inch thick. These braces are 4 feet apart, and extend from the floor-heads to the gunwales, are rivetted together at every intersection, bolted through every timber, and form a complete network of iron, which binds the frame beyond the power of working. She is the first sailing vessel ever built in this country which has been braced with iron.

The ceiling on the floor is 4 inches thick, and on the bilge commencing with 8 inches, which is graduated to 7 inches. Her lower deck clamps are also 8 inches thick, and all her thick work extends forward and aft, and is square bolted. Her beams are of hard pine, those under the lower deck sided from 15 to 17 inches, and moulded 14; the main deck beams are nearly the same, and the upper deck beams 2 inches smaller. The hold stanchions are kneed to the beams above and to the keelson below. She has three breast-hooks, of white oak, in the hold, but all her deck hooks are of live oak.

The hanging knees under the beams of all decks are of white oak, sided in the body of the vessel from 10 to 12 inches, and moulded from 22 to 28 inches in the throats. Of course, towards the ends, the knees are diminished in size, for in every detail it has been the object of the builder to make the parts in correct proportions. A beam 15 feet long does not require as stout a knee to brace it to the side, as one double the length. The knees have from 16 to 18 bolts, driven from the outside and clinched on the inside.

The waterways of the lower and main decks are 15 inches square, the strake inside of them 8 inches thick, and that over them 10 by 12 inches, all closely crossbolted. The clamps under the main deck are 7 inches thick, the ceiling below 6 inches, and the clamps and ceiling under the upper deck one inch less, but all square fastened. The stanchions in both decks are of locust turned, and are secured with iron rods through their centres, which bind all the decks together.

There are twenty-eight beams under the main deck, and a corresponding number in proportion to her length, under the other decks, and these have all hanging and lodging knees of white oak, well finished and strongly fastened.

The upper deck waterways are 11 by 12 inches, cross bolted, and all her decks are of clear white pine, 3½ inches thick.

Her garboards are 8 inches thick, bolted with copper both through the timbers and the keel, and the strake outside of them is 6 inches, also copper bolted. The planking outside of these is 4 inches, and on the bilge 4½, which increases to 5, the substance of the wales. Her waist is of 4 inches; the planksheer or covering board 5 inches, and the main rail 6 inches, which is strengthened by an oak rack rail, already noticed; and her bulwark boarding is neatly tongued and grooved, and finished in the first style of workmanship.

All the outside above the garboards, which are bolted, is square fastened with copper spikes; and is also copper butt and bilge bolted, up to 24 feet draught. Her treenails are of choice locust, driven through and wedged in both ends. her planking, ceiling and deck frames are all of selected hard pine. The details of her fastening and construction show her to be of excellent materials, well built, and neatly finished.

In ventilation, she has all the improvements of the day. Five of Emerson's patent ventilators are ranged along her decks, and communicate with the hold, and every deck below. In addition to these she has air ports in her ceiling, and brass ventilators along her planksheer, and in the ceiling of her bow, under the topgallant forecastle. Nothing has been omitted that experience could suggest to render her hull sound and durable.

She is a full rigged ship, and her masts rake, commencing with the fore, 1 1/8, 1¼, and 1½ inches to the foot. The following are the dimensions of her masts and yards:

Diameter, Inches. Length, Feet. Mast heads, Feet.
Fore 34 93 16½
Top 17½ 52
Topgallant 12½ 34½ 0
Royal 22½ 0
Skysail 17 pole .. 5
Main 26 97 17
Top 16½ 54 9
Topgallant 13 36 0
Royal 21 0
Skysail 7 18½ pole .. 6
Mizzen 29 84½ 13
Top 14½ 42½ 7 1 6
Topgallant 28½ 0
Royal 19 0
Skysail 15 pole .. 4
Fore 22½ 81 yard arms .. 4½
Top 15½ 66
Topgallant 18½ 44
Royal 33
Skysail 22
Main 24 90 5
Top 17 71 7
Topgallant 11½ 47 3
Royal 35
Skysail 23
Crossjack 17½ 70
Mizzentopsail 13½ 54½
Topgallant 36½ 2
Royal 6 27½
Skysail 5 18 1

Her bowsprit is 30 inches in diameter and 30 feet outboard; jibboom 17 inches in diameter, and is divided at 20 feet for the standing-jib, and 15 for the flying jib, with 5 feet end; jib-a-jibboom 13 feet with 3 feet end; spanker-boom 13 inches in diameter, 60 feet long, including 3 feet 2 inches end; spanker-gaff 9 inches in diameter, and 40 feet long, including 6½ feet end; ringtail boom 30 feet long, or 20 feet outboard; swinging booms 12 inches in diameter, and 60 feet long, and the other spars in proportion.

Her lower masts are made, fished on every square and filled in under the hoops, and her tops, like those of a ship of war, are solid, and fit close to the eyes of the lower rigging. The fore-top, in the wake of the after shrouds of the topmast rigging, is 16½ wide, the main 17, and the mizzen 13½. Her lower masts are painted black, her tops are bright, and also all above the doublings of the lower masts. The extremes of her mast-heads are ornamented with gilded balls; and all her yards are black.

The standing rigging is of Russia hemp, four stranded patent rope, without a heart, equal in size to that of a first class frigate, -- and is wormed and served over the ends and eyes with marling. The lower rigging sets up through lignum vitæ dead eyes, with lanyards which are also wormed, and the topmast rigging and stays on their ends. Her fore stays set up to the knight heads, entirely clear of the bowsprit, so that if the latter should be carried away, the foremast would not be affected by the loss. Her topmast stays, fore topgallant and jib stays pass through the bows and set up in-board, which leaves her bow outside uncommonly clear, and if possible adds to its beauty, besides possessing the great advantage of being set up in any weather, without exposure to the men. As the bowsprit is very short, and strongly secured between the knight-heads, it is not lumbered with rigging. It has only one bobstay and a single pair of shrouds, which are enough, considering that the foremast is not dependent upon it, and that her jib-boom is also very short. The bowsprit shrouds and bobstay, also the martingale guys and stays, are all of chain.

Her main stays set up to a massive pair of bitts before the foremast, and not to the windlass paul-bitt. This arrangement, aside from the manifest advantages in point of strength and snugness, leaves a clear forecastle for handling studdingsails, or performing and other work which may require the full scope of the deck.

Her maintopmast and top-gallant stays lead into the fore-top, man-of-war style; and the mizzentopmast and top-gallant stays into the main top.

When carrying a press of sail by the wind, she will have topmast and topgallant breast-backstays. These however, will be shifting, not stationary like those in ships of war.

Her fore and main yards are scarphed in the bunts, as single spars of sufficient length and strength could not be procured. The slings of her lower yards are secured abaft the heels of the topmasts, to the lower mast-heads, and the yards have iron trusses of the most approved patent. She has chain topsail sheets, and double chain ties, with gins on the yards, and halliards on both sides. The other details of her rigging correspond in strength and neatness with those already enumerated.

A glance at the dimensions of her spars will show that she spreads a vast surface of canvas. With lower studdingsails set on both sides, the distance across from the outer leach of one studdingsail to that of the other will be over 160 feet. A single suit of her sails contains 12,780 yards of canvass -- of course this includes studdingsails, &c.

The material of her sails is Colt's cotton duck, made to order, 16 inches wide. The drop of her mainsail in the bunt is 47 feet 3 inches, and on the leach 49 feet 6 inches; its length on the foot is 100 feet, and it is made of 1273 yards of canvass. Her sails are so cut that their leaches form a continuous line from the head earings of the skysails to the clews of the courses. Her running rigging is of selected Manila hemp, hand spun, and her blocks and every other detail are designed for strength and hard service, but are at the same time neatly finished.

Her appearance aloft is truly grand. Notwithstanding the vast length of her masts and yards, they are so substantial, and correctly proportioned, and the rigging which supports them, so neat and snug, that the eye wanders in vain above her rail, to detect an unseamanlike detail. To our eve she is as completely perfect aloft, as she is faultlessly beautiful below.

She is owned by Messrs. N.L. & G. Griswold, of New York, was built by Mr. Wm. H. Webb, and is commanded by Captain Robert H. Waterman. Like the knights of old, who throw their gauntlets down to all corners, her owners send her forth, to challenge the world afloat!

Boston Daily Atlas, June 16, 1851.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius.

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

Copyright © 1997 Lars Bruzelius.