The New Clipper Ship Donald M'Kay - Of Liverpool.

This ship registers 2588 tons, is 260 feet long between the perpendiculars on deck, and has 46 feet extreme breadth of beam, and 29 feet of hold, with three decks, a full topgallant forecastle, with a house abaft it, and a full poop with a house before it. Although not so long nor wide, at the measuring points, as the Great Republic, she has more spread of floor, is much fuller in the ends, has more cubic capacity, and therefore is the largest sailing merchant ship in the world, and spreads 27 percent more canvas than the Great Republic. The latter, as rebuilt, has only three decks, and has had her masts and yards very much reduced from their original dimensions.

The Donald M'Kay is but a little leaner in the ends than the general run of European packets, and although her lines are slightly concave below, they are decidely convex above, and hence give her greater capacity, than the extreme clippers that have only space for broken stowage. Her bow preserves its angular form to the rail, and it ornamented with a full figure of a Highlander, "all is plaided and plumed in the tartan array" of the ancient M'Kay. She has an easy and graceful sheer graduated her whole length, with a rising up at the ends to throw an air or lightness over her whole outline. Her stern is rounded, and altough she has a full poop deck, such is the justness of her proportions, that her afterbody is in perfect keeping with her general outline. Her run, too, is long and clean, but not cut up. It varies but little from the bow at the load displacement line; or, in other words, her ends are nearly alike. The stern is tastefully ornamented with gilded carved work, her hull is painted is painted black, her eyes and railings and the poop white, and the paint work on the deck buff color, except the waterways, which are blue.

Her bulwarks are built solid, like her sides, and are surmounted by a monkey rail, whose height above the deck is about 7 feet.

The deck of the topgallant forecastle, and the top of the house are on the same level, built together, and are connected, by a gangway, with the poop, so that the men can pass from end to end, without decending into the waist. The forward part of the topgallant forecastle is fitted for the accomodation of the crew, and abaft the windlass is a large space for working the chains; or, at sea, in bad weather, it will afford comfortable shelter for the watch on deck. This space contains along its sides several useful apartments, neatly designed and well protected.

The house extends to the main hatchway, contans spacious galleys, staterooms and storeromms, and protects two staircases, which lead to the deck below. A moveable house covers the main hatchway at sea. The poop has a house before it, which extends nearly to the main mast, with ample space along its sides for working the gear of the mainmast. On the poop is a house which protects the wheel, covers two staircases which lead to the after cabin, and contains several useful lockers, &c. Another house protects a staircase, which leads to the dining saloon, and to the deck below, where are the gentlemen passengers' sleeping compartments. Great skylights, set in mahogany frames, extend along the entire of the poop over every cabin, the pantry and staircases. The outline of the poop and the house are protected by an oak rail on turned stanchions, and there are four sets of stairs, two forward in the house, and two aft in the poop, which lead from the deck below to the top of the house and the poop deck.

The after cabin contains twelve large staterooms, and is splendidly wainscotted with mahogany, set off into Grecian arched panles, elaborately ornamented with plasters, papier-mache cornices, gilding and flowerwork. And beautiful sofas stand astern, and over the windows is a bookcase, filled with well bound books. the tables, carpets, mirrors and other furniture, are of the most costly material, arranged with taste.

The saloon is about 40 feet long by 20 feet wide, and is also finely wainscotted and ornamented. There is two tiers of tables placed longitudinally, with settees along their sides. Its forward entrances is a segment of a circle amidships, with glass-panelled doors, is sheltered by a passage which extends across the house. The alternate panels along the sides of the saloon are windows, which, that the skylight, throw a flood of light and ventilation over the whole apartment. Below the after cabin and part of the saloon, there are 24 staterooms, with two berths in each, for sleeping apartments for gentlemen passengers. These staterooms, like those above, are elegantly furnished, well lighted, and ventilated.

Before the saloon is a pantry, and before it a messroom for the officers. On the starboard side of it is a purser's stateroom, and before it on the starboard side is a chiefmate's apartment, and on the opposite side are accomodations for the second and third mates, and staterooms for the surgeon. The forward part of the house also protects two staircases, one of which leads to the main deck, and the other to the lower deck.

Not withstanding the vast space occupied by her forecastle, poop, and houses, she has ample deck-room for working ship. She has a patent windlass, six capstans, Crane's self-acting chain-stoppers, two copper-chambered pumps, six boats, Tewksbury's patent seats, and all the other furniture of a perfect ship.

Her two decks are designed for the accomodation of passengers. The height between the lower and main decks is 7½ feet, and between the latter and the upper deck, 7 feet, and both are painted white, and their thick work and waterways blue. Along the sides of the main deck there are square windows, with circular plate glass lights in them, and amidships through the topgallant forecastle, the house amidships, and the cabins, there are spacious square ventilators, which communicate with the decks below, and render them both light and airy. Along the sides of the houses, forward and aft, there are also skylight ventilators, which can be thrown open in moderate weather. All her accomodations for the passengers are fitted up in the best of style could suggest.

The ship herself is a wonderful combination of beauty and strength. Her frame, hooks, and nearly all her knees, are of seasoned white oak, her ceiling, planking, keelsons and deck frames, and lower and main decks, are pitch pine, and she is square fastened throughout. Her keel is in two depths of rock maple. Each depth 16 inches square, with 12 feet of lock scarfs, bolted with copper. The floor timbers on the keel are 20 by 14 inches, and over them are four depths of midship keelsons, and two tiers of sister keelsons on each side, each tier 16 inches square and all bolted with 1¼ and 1⅝ inch yellow metal and refined iron, in a most substantial style. Her frame is diagonally cross-braced with iron, each brace ⅞ of an inch thick, and 5 inches wide, and these braces extend from the first futtocks to the top-timbers, are lead into the frames and ceiling, and bolted throughout every frame, and rivited together at every intersection, so that her inside before ceiling, was bound together with a net-work of iron. The ceiling on the floor is 5 inches thick, and over the first futtocks are two keelsons on each side, each 16 inches square, bolted both ways. The ceiling above, over the turn of the bilge, is all 12 inches thick, and above there 10 inches, while square fastened through the timbers and bolted edgewise also. Under the ends of the lower deck-knees, is a lapstrake or stringers which extends her whole length, and is filled in with hooks at each end. She had three hooks and pointers forward in the hold, hooks between each of the decks and under the bowsprit, as well as a corresponding number aft. Her stem, cutwater,apron, stemson and deadwood, as well as stern-post, false-post, stern-knees, &c., are very stout, and are bolted with yellow metal up to the load displacement line; above them they are bolted with refined iron. She has 96 beams under her 3 decks, and those under the lower and main decks vary from 17 to 15 inches square, and under the upper deck they are 10 by 15 inches. The last have hackmatack hanging knees; all others have white oak knees, with 18 bolts in each. The lower and main deck waterways are 16 inches square, with thick work of 10 by 16 inches over them, and of 10 by 12 inside of them, and ceiling of 6 inches thickness along the sides. All of her ceiling is not only square fastened and bolted edgewise, but is scarfed and keyed in the same style as the keelsons and thick work. The stanchions clasp the beams, extend to the main deck, are stepped on the starboard sister keelson before the main mast, then on the other side abaft it, and are bolted through the midship keelsons and clasped with iron. She has also 11 wing-stanchions on each side, stepped and kneed to the bilge keelsons, and these extended to the beams under the main deck, the upper deck stanchions are of oak turned, secured with iron rods through their centers, which set up below with nuts and screws.

She has double upper deck waterways, the first 14 inches square, the second 10 by 12, rounded off toward the deck. Her deck planking is 3½ inches thick, remarkably clear of blemish.

Her garboard are 8 by 14 inches, lead into the keel, and bolted through it and each other, and upward through the timbers; the other two strakes outside diminish to 5 inches thickness, the substance of her bottom planking, and her wales are 6 by 7 inches, carried flush to the outline of her planksheer molding. She is square fastened with treenails, butt and bilge bolted with yellow metal, and finished smooth as cabinet work.

The lower masts and bowsprit are built of pitch pine and hooped with iron; her topmasts, jibboom, and lower yards are also pitch pine. She has Howe's rig, which differs from the common rig, by having double topsail yard. The lower topsail yard is trussed to the main topmast cap, and instead of slings, it is supported from below by a crane upon the heel of the topmast; the lower topsail, thefore, is the size of the close-reefed sail of the old rig, and sets entirely by the sheets. The upper topsail sets upon the yard above the cap, and has its foot laced to a jackstay upon the top of the yard below, so that no wind can escape between the two topsails. This arrangement of the yards has many advantages. The ship can be reduced to close-reefed topsails at any time, by lowering the upper topsails, which will the lie becalmed before the lower topsails, and the latter, if required to be reefed, can be so without the use of reef-tackles. In squally weather this rig is invaluable, for the sail can be carried until the last minute, as it can be reduced and reset without a man leaving the deck. Its economy in wear of canvas must also be very great, for the sails are of manageable size, and have neither buntlines, reeftackles, nor clewlines to chafe them. A ship with this rig is more seaworthy, because she may always be considered as under close-reefed topsails, and may be worked with fewer men than a vessel of the same size, having the old rig. It looks rather clumsy in port, and this, we believe, is the principle objection urged against it by those who do not comprehend its advantages at sea. Ships, however, are rigged for service at sea, and not for show in port; that, therefore, which is the most serviceable is certainly the best.

The ship's masts are nearly upright and consequently receive more support from the rigging then if they raked. In setting up the rigging of a raking mast, it either drags the mast aft; or brings too much strain upon the stays, without giving the mast that side support so essential to make it stand well. Also, in light wind, sails on raking masts flap against the rigging and chafe, while on upright masts they hang clear and almost sleep, giving the ship the full benefit of the breeze. Sails flapping backwards and forwards, often neutralize the effect of a light breeze. The following are the dimensions of the ship's masts and yards.

MASTS Diameter Length Mast-heads Inches feet feet Fore . . . . . . . . . . 41 72 18 Top . . . . . . . . . . 21 54 11 Topgallant . . . . . . . 15 28 0 Royal . . . . . . . . . 13 18 pole 9 Main . . . . . . . . . . 42 77 18 Top . . . . . . . . . . 22 56 11 Topgallant . . . . . . . 15 28 0 Royal . . . . . . . . . 13 18 0 Sky . . . . . . . . . . 9 12 pole 9 Mizzen . . . . . . . . . 32 67 15 Top . . . . . . . . . . 18 46.5 9 Topgallant . . . . . . . 13 26 0 Royal . . . . . . . . . 11 16 pole 8 YARDS Fore . . . . . . . . . . 26 105 yard arms 5 Lower top . . . . . . . 24 87 3 Upper top . . . . . . . 21 80 5.5 Topgallant . . . . . . . 15 59 3.5 Royal . . . . . . . . . 11 46 2.5 Main . . . . . . . . . . 27 115 5 Lower top . . . . . . . 25 96 3 Upper top . . . . . . . 22 86 5.5 Topgallant . . . . . . . 15 64 3.5 Royal . . . . . . . . . 11 51 3 Sky . . . . . . . . . . 9 40 1.5 Crossjack . . . . . . . 22 82 5 Lower top . . . . . . . 19 69 3 Upper top . . . . . . . 17 64 4.5 Topgallant . . . . . . . 15 48 3 Royal . . . . . . . . . 10 38 2

The bowsprit is 40 inches in diameter, and 22 feet outboard; jibboom, 22 inches in diameter in diameter, is divided at 15, 14, and 10 feet for the three jibs, with 4 feet end; spanker boom, 58 feet long, gaff, 44 feet, and other spars in proportion. She has bumkins for the four tacks, and swinging bumpkins for the clews of the mainsail, to spread the sail when going free in light winds. Her lower studding sails are triangular, consequently she has no swinging booms, and as the yard arms of her lower topsail yards are short, her topmast studding sails hoist to the upper topsail yards, and are the whole depth of both topsails. Her lower masts are bright and varnished, her yards and bowsprit black, and both are very strongly rigged. She has the best of Russian hemp standing rigging, and all the chain and other iron work aloft and about the bowsprit and jibboom, now in general use; the running is of Manila hemp. Her sails are of cotton canvas cross-banded and roped in the best style.

The following facts relating to her principle spars are interesting. Her lowermasts, topmasts and bowspirit have, respectively 30, 33, 18, 5, 5, 3 and 7 tons of pitch pine in them; the lower yards 12, 14½ and 6½; the lower topsail yards 8, 8½ and 4; the upper topsail yards 4½, 5 and 3 tons; -- total, 167 tons. She has 3600 feet of chain rigging. The hoops on her fore, main and mizzen masts are 4 inches wide by 5/8 of an inch thick, are 30, 31 and 28 in number, and their weights on each mast are 3120, 3210 and 2500 pounds -- total, 8830 pounds; hoops on the fore and main yards, 1805 and 2085 pounds -- total, 3890 pounds; trusses on the lower yards, 800, 850 and 600 pounds -- total, 2250 pounds. Number of yards of canvas in her square sail, 10,136; in the fore and aft sails, 4025; studdingsails, 2310; coverings, &c. 286 -- total, 16,755 yards.

Her masts were made by Mr. Geo. E. Young; Mr. Thos. J. Shelton, the prince of block makers, blocked and pumped her; Mr. Mendum, who is not inferior to Vulcan himself, was her blacksmith; Mr. E.F. Southward made her sails. He is a leading member of the N.E. Church, and one of the best sailmakers in Boston. In her outfits aloft as well as below, everything which skill could suggest, and money procure, has been most liberally supplied to her.

She was built at East Boston, by Mr. Donlad M'Kay, and is designed for Messers Jas. Baines & Co's line of Liverpool and Australia packets. Of all the ships that Mr. M'Kay has built, many of them unsurpassed for beauty and speed, this to our eyes, excells them all. She has all the airy beauty of a clipper, combined with the stately outline of a ship of war; and, though not sharp, yet her great length, buoyancy and stability, indicate that she will sail very fast, and be an excellent seaboat. Capt. Warner, formerly of the noted clipper Sovereign of the Seas, commands her. He is an able and experienced seaman, and every way qualified to make his noble ship do her best. Success to him and her.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius.

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Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.