A clipper ship built in 1846 by Smith & Dimon, New York, to the design of John
Dimensions 170'3"×33'11"×19' and tonnage 907 53/95 tons OM.
The figurehead was a Chinese dragon with an open mouth and a partly coiled
The hull was painted black with a contrasting sheerline strip at deck level and the spars were all bright work.
There is a contemporary off-scale shipwright's model of the ship at the
Museum of New York City.
- Launched at the shipyard of Smith & Dimon, New York, for Howland & Aspinwall, New York. Captain Robert H. Waterman late of the same owner's New Orleans packet Natchez.
- 1846 December 23
- Sailed from New York to Hong Kong in 104 days.
- 1847 July 25
- Arrived at New York, 82 days from Whampoa, or 62 days from Anjer.
- 1847 November 17
- Arrived at Hong Kong, 105 days from New York.
- 1847 December 29 -- March 15
- Left Whampoa for New York where
she arrived after 77 days, which was the fastest passage on record.
- Sailed from New York to Valparaiso in 69 days, during
which passage she sailed 10.568 miles at an average speed of 6 2/5 knots.
- Sailed from Callao to Hong Kong in 52 days.
- 1849 March 25
- Arrived at New York, 79 days from Whampoa at an
average of 7½ knots.
- Sailed from New York to Hong Kong in 118 days under command of Captain George W. Fraser.
- 1850 March 7
- Arrived at New York in 85 days from Whampoa.
- 1850 April 14 -- July 25
- Sailed from New York to San Francisco
in 101 days after four days at Valparaiso.
- Sailed from San Francisco to Hong Kong in 46 days.
- 1851 March 15
- Sailed from Whampoa for New York where she
arrived after 102 days.
- 1851 August 1 -- November 20
- Sailed from New York to San
Francisco in 11 days.
- 1852 August 22 - December 9
- Sailed from New York to San
Francisco in 109 days.
- Sailed from San Francisco to Shanghai in 41 days.
- 1853 March 11
- Sailed from Woosung for New York where she
arrived after 106 days.
- 1853 August 9 - December 9
- Sailed from New York to Hong Kong in
122 days after a slow passage. Off the Cape of Horn the foremast was struck by
lightning and the royal and topgallant spars were shivered.
- 1855 April 5
- Left New York for Hong Kong, but put into Rio de
Janeiro with the dead body of Captain Fraser who had been murdered by the
first mate. Captain Lang was put in command.
- 1855 December 1
- Sailed from Amoy with 500 coolies for Havana.
- 1856 March 28
- Wrecked on a reef 12 miles off Havana.
There are also two contemporary paintings by Chinese artists of the Sea Witch. One is at the Peabody Museum in Salem, MA, and the other in the India House, New York.
- Clipper ships, general references.
- Chapelle, Howard I.: The Search for Speed under Sail 1700-1855.
Norton, New York, 1967. 8vo, xiv, 451 pp, ill., 16 plates.
- Howe, Octavious T. & Matthews, Frederick C.: American Clipper Ships.
1926. 8vo, xvi, 372 pp, 57 plates & x, pp 373-780, 57 plates.
- McGregor, David R.: British & American Clippers. A Comparison of their
Design, Construction and Performance in the 1850s.
Conway Maritime Press, London, 1993. 4to, 192 pp, ill.
- Smith, Melbourne: To See which is Sea Witch.
Nautical Research Journal Vol. 26, Washington, 1980. pp 55-52, ill.
Updated 1998-04-20 by Lars Bruzelius.
Sjöhistoriska Samfundet | The Maritime History Virtual Archives |
American clipper ships |
Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.