Marco Polo

A three-masted medium clipper ship built of wood by James Smith at Saint John, New Brunswick, 1851, for his own use. Her registered dimensions were: 184'1"×36'3"×29'4" and a tonnage of 1625 RT.

Her half-model is preserved in the collections of The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA. Stammers also reproduces what appears to be a set of blueprint lines of the ship whithout giving a source for these. The stern sculpture is also preserved at the New Brunswick Museum.

Rigged with Cunningham's patent roller reefing topsails.

A description of the ship appeared in The Illustrated London News, June 1852.

1851 April
Launched at Marsh Creek near Saint John, New Brunswick. Due to her size she grounded at the opposite shore of the creek where she remained for two weeks.
Sailed on her maiden voyage from New Brunswick [?] with a cargo of timber to Liverpool in 15 days.
Sailed from Mobile, AL, to Liverpool in 35 days.
Sold to Paddy McGee, Liverpool.
1852 June
Sold to James Baines, Liverpool, for the Black Ball Line of Australia Packets. Rebuilt to be used in the passenger trade. Rebolted with yellow metal bolts and coppered.
Under the command of Captain James Nicol Forbes she made the voyage from Liverpool to Port Phillips Heads where she arrived on the 18th of September after 76 days. An epedemic of measels among the children aboard caused 52 deaths during the voyage.
After three weeks she returned to Liverpool [London?] on Boxing Day in another 76 days. This was the first recorded round trip in less than six months, or to be exact 5 months 21 days.
1853 March 13
Left Liverpool for Melbourne where she arrived after 75 days at sea.
Sailed from Liverpool to Melbourne in 72 days under the command of Captain Charles McDonald.
1854 December 1 - March 1
Sailed from Melbourne to Liverpool in 88 days.
1858 August
Saved the passengers and crew of the emmigrant ship Eastern City which had burnt at sea near the Cape of Good Hope.
1858 September 7
Left Australia for Liverpool with 46.881 ounces of gold onboard [ILN 1858-11-06].
1861 March 7
Collided with an iceberg South of Cape Horn and arrived in Valparaiso leaking badly on May 2. After repairs she continuted to Liverpool on May 22 where she arrived 183 days out from Melbourne.
After having completed the journey Melbourne to Liverpool in 76 days she failed to pass the passenger survey and was put on the general cargo trade.
Sold to J. Wilson & Blain, South Shields, and put in the coal and timber trade.
Reduced to barque rig.
Sold to Bell & Lawes, South Shields.
Sold to Capt. Bull, Christiania [Oslo], Norway.
1883 June 27
A fire broke out on the barque Marco Polo lying at the ballast ground, Quebec, but was got under before much damage was done.
1883 July 19
Sailed after having loaded a cargo of deals.
1883 July 22
Sprang a leak in the St Lawrence and when the pumps could not hold back the water Captain Bull decided to run ashore. The Marco Polo was grounded near Cavendish, Prince Edwards Island, three chains from the shore. The masts were cut away to save the ship from being worked asunder.
1883 August
The wreck was sold at auction for £ 600 [Stammers has 500] and the cargo for £ 5500. The steering gear and stove were removed from the wreck and put on the new barque Charles E. Lefargey of Charlottetown, Prince Edwards Island. A subsequent gale broke up the ship before the cargo was entirely salvaged.
In a short note in the Mariner's Mirror Vol. 49 (1963), p 145, Basil Greenhill says that "a carved and gilded figure and an anchor" are in the New Brunswick Museum, St John. This "carved and gilded figure" is probably the same as the stern carving illustrated by Stammers showing Marco Polo resting on his elbow.

He also mentions that Mr Gallant, a Cavendish fisherman, had recovered additional material from the Marco Polo which he had on display by the side of the road in the summer of 1962. These finds comprised fragments of timbers with metal sheathing, pipes and metal bolts, and two further anchors.


Updated 1999-09-07 by Lars Bruzelius.

Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives | Ships | American clipper ships | Search.

Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.