This magnificent ship has not yet been measured by the Custom House officials, but will probably register over 2200 tons. She is 230 feet long between perpendiculars on deck, and 240 feet over all, from the knightheads to the taffrail; has 43 feet extreme breadth of beam, and 27 feet depth, with 3 decks. her ends are long and sharp, particularly the bow, and her lines are slightly concave below, but above they gradually merge into the convex, giving her an elliptical form on the rail. The angular form of the bow, however, is preserved to the rail, in perfect harmony, and swells into the fullness of the hull, as truly as the sweep of a circle. As the stem is boldly inclined outwards, and as the sheer of the bow springs buoyantly upwards, her appearance bow on is truly beautiful. Notwithstanding her vast size, she looks as light and graceful as a yacht, combined with the imposing majesty of a ship of war. For a head, she has a full female figure, arrayed in flowing vestments of white, fringed with gold, placed in an easy and airy attitude, and forming a beautiful ornament to the bow. Her left hand extended, grasps the globe -- her right hand, reposing by her side, holds the sceptre of the seas.
The ship has a waist of five strakes, defined between the mouldings of the upper wale and the planksheer, and her stern is semi-elliptical in outline, with the lower wale for its base. In form and finish it is a perfect gem of naval architecture, and is tastefully ornamented with gilded carved work. Her run is long and clean, but is at the same time formed with special reference to buoyancy, so that she shall not settle aft, however fast she may fly through the water. She has about 3 feet sheer, a foot curvature of sides, and a long and buoyant floor, with an angle of 23 degrees dead rise. Either off or by the wind, her rate of speed is expected to equal at least, that of any vessel yet built. She is sheathed with yellow metal up to 20½ feet forward, and to 21½ feet aft, and is painted black above it.
Her frame is of the very best seasoned white oak, and her scantling of hard pine. The keel is in two depths, each depth 16 inches square, bolted together with copper. Its scarphs are 10 feet long, also bolted with copper and square keyed. The floor timbers are moulded 19 inches and sided from 14 to 12, and are bolted with inch-and-a-quarter copper, the first bolts driven through them and the keel, and the second through the first midship keelson, the timbers and the keel, both rivetted on the outside. She has 4 depths of midship keelsons, each 15 inches square, and 2 depths of sister keelsons on each side, each depth 15 inches square. These are closely bolted vertically, diagonally and horizontally, and take in every navel timber, which is bolted into the keel. It will be seen by the dimensions of her keel, the mouldings of the floor timbers and the depths of her midship keelsons, that her back bone is 9 feet 3 inches through, and lacks only 3 inches of 4 feet spread inside of the timbers. Such a foundation, we think, is strong enough to keep her in shape, no matter how she may be loaded. But in addition to this, her frames are chocked at every joint, and bolted together fore and aft. the floor ceiling is 5 inches thick, and commencing below the floor heads she has 4 strakes of 14 inches square, then 4 of 12 by 14, and the rest of the ceiling up to the deck is 10 inches thick, all scarphed and square bolted, and bolted together edgeways at every 3 feet. Her whole ceiling is bolted in the same style. The height between the lower and main decks is 7 feet 7 inches, and between the main and upper decks 7 feet 10 inches.
The lower and main decks waterways are 15 inches square, with a strake of 10 by 16 inches over them, and another of 10 by 12 inside of them, let into the beams and bolted vertically and horizontally. The ceiling between both decks varies from 6 to 5 inches above the thick work, and as already remarked, is square fastened, and keyed every 8 or 10 feet. The upper deck has two clamps under the beams, and its waterways are 12 inches square, with two thick strakes inside of them, mortised over the beams, and bolted both ways. Her deck frames are of hard pine. The beams under the lower and main decks are 15 by 16 inches, and those under the upper deck 10 by 16 amidships, but tapered toward the ends. The lower and main decks are planked with hard pine, 3½ inches thick, and the upper deck with white pine of the same substance. The knees connected with the beams of the upper deck are of hacmatack, all the other knees are of oak, sided from 10 to 13 inches, and moulded from 20 to 22 inches in the throats -- we mean the hanging knees. The lodging knees are scarphed together in every berth, and all are very closely bolted. She has 10 hooks forward and 8 aft, and the pointers cross all the cants diagonally, and extend well along the body. Except about 8 feet along the wings, and a corresponding space in the ends, the lower beams are not decked, consequently her stowage capacity is greatly increased, without any diminution of strength, for the margin of the planking is strongly combinged [sic], and the margins or wings are sufficiently wide to bind her fore and aft. The stanchions under the lower and main deck beams are the whole width of the beams, and are clasped together with iron across the beams, and bolted through the clasps. The lower deck stanchions are also kneed above and below; the upper deck stanchions are of oak, turned, and are secured in the usual style. her hatchway combings and mast-partners are very strongly kneed and otherwise secured. Inside she is not only built of massive materials, but is fastened and finished in the first style of workmanship.
Her garboards are 8 by 16 inches, let into the keel, bolted through it, and upward through the timbers; the next strake is 6 inches thick, the third 5, and the bottom planking is 4½, all graduated from the keel without projection; the wales are 6 by 7 inches, and the waist 4½ inches. The outside is square fastened with treenails, butt and bilge-bolted with copper, and is finished smooth as glass. Her covering board and main rail are each 6 inches thick, and her bulwarks, like those of a ship of war, are built and planked with 2 inch hard pine. The main rail is 4 feet 3 inches high, surmounted by a monkey rail of 20 inches, which is pannelled on the inside.
She has a topgallant forecastle fitted for the accommodation of part of the crew, a large house amidships, partly fitted for the same purpose, and also contains the galley and other apartments. She has a half-poop deck with a trunk built into it, which contains two spacious cabins and an ante-room. The after one is splendidly wainscotted with mahogany and other fancy woods, flowered with gold, and has recess sofas on each side, with mirrors in their backgrounds. The forward cabin, though not so gorgeously finished, is, nevertheless, a beautiful apartment, and the staterooms which lead from both are spacious, well designed for comfort, and will, no doubt, be elegantly furnished. The pantry and officers' staterooms are in the forward part, clear of the apartments designed for passengers. The top of the trunk and the outline of the poop are protected by railings, and abaft the trunk there is ample space for steering room. The wings and after part of the trunk, adjoining the cabins, are fitted as storerooms.
Below, she has an iron water tank of 6000 gallons capacity.
Her outfits aloft are upon a grand scale. The lower masts and bowsprit are built of hard pine, and hooped with iron, and look strong enough to stand while the hull endures. The following are the dimensions of her masts and yards:
The bowsprit is 38 inches in diameter, and 25 feet outboard; the jibboom 19 inches in diameter and divided at 22 and 18 feet for the standing and flying jibs, with 6 feet end; spanker boom 60 feet long, gaff 42, main spencer gaff 24 feet, and the other spars in proportion. The masts rake, commencing with the fore, 7/8ths, 1 inch, and 1 1/8 inches to the foot. Her fore and main tops have 17 feet spread aft, and the mizzen top 13. The topmasts and jibboom are of hard pine, and the former, except the mizzen, have iron gins aloft, instead of sheave holes, for the topsail ties, and the topmast trestletrees are supported by iron bands with shoulders sunk into the masts and bolted, to prevent their settling. Iron bolsters also encircle the topgallant and royalmast heads to keep the rigging in place. The fore and main rigging and stays, and fore and main topmast backstays are all of 11 inch Russian hemp, patent rope, four stranded, wormed, served over the ends and eyes, and the eyes are also neatly covered with cotton duck. She has 6 shrouds to each lower mast, and three after backstays to the fore and main topmasts, and also shifting breast backstays, to be used when by the wind. She has two backstays of 7 inch, to the fore and main topgallant masts, one of these abreast, spread by outriggers. Her mizzen rigging is 8 inch, and her topmast rigging in proportion, set up on the ends.
She has chain topsail sheets and double chain ties, patent trusses, iron futtock rigging, and chain bobstays, bowsprit shrouds, and martingale guys and stays. Her running rigging is principally of Manila hemp, and she has blocks throughout. She has iron reef jackstays on her lower yards for the courses, heavy boom irons, with rollers in them, and all the other details of a perfect ship. Her lower masts and topmast heads are painted white, her yards black, and her booms are bright and varnished. Not only in the beautiful proportions of her spars, but in their strength and the perfect style of their rig, she is unquestionably the best fitted merchant ship aloft in the world. She has also sails to correspond, made of cotton duck and finished without regard to cost. They were made by Messrs. E.F. Porter & Co., of East Boston, who rank among the best sail makers in the country. She was rigged by Capt. Brewster, of the same place, and most faithfully has he done his work. The blacksmith, Mr. Mendum, who does the iron work upon all Mr. M'Kay's ships, has done his best upon this. No man ranks higher as a perfect workman. Mr. Manson was her joiner, and finished her cabins, and Messrs. Gleason & Sons made her head and other ornamental work.
In all her outfits, such as ground tackle, windlass, capstans, steering apparatus, boats, &c., she is most liberally found, and in these, as well as in the strength and beauty, will compare favorably with any ship in the merchant service.
She was built at East Boston, by the celebrated Donald McKay. Originally he designed to build her for himself and sail her on his own account, therefore he modelled her according to his own ideas, and embodied in her every element of perfection, his extensive experience could suggest. And most nobly has he succeeded. She is the wonder and admiration of all who have inspected her, not only for the faultless beauty of her model, but also for her massive strength, and the completeness of her outfits. Mr. McKay, by the boldness of his conceptions, his genius, skill and untiring energy, has created for himself a name that is famous on every sea where beauty of model and matchless speed are admired. He is an honor to our common country. As a man, too, of sterling integrity, he is as much admired by those who know him best, as he is by the nautical world for his skill as a shipbuilder. "His word is his bond," that once pledged is inviolable, and to this as much as to his skill, may be attributed his success. He inspires confidence in those who deal with him, and confidence has been the main lever of his triumphs. Long may he live to enjoy them, and to achieve even greater triumphs than those which have already given him such extensive celebrity.
The Empress of the Sea is now owned by Messrs. Wm. Wilson & Sons, eminent merchants of Baltimore, and in a few days will proceed to New York and there load in J.S. Oakford's line of San Francisco clippers. Good luck to her.
Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius.
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