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Flying Cloud Voyage of 1851


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Cutler's "Greyhounds of the Sea", appendix V has the log of the Flying Cloud from New York to San Francisco under master Josiah P. Cressy in 1851.  I transcribed all of the lat/long data into Wolfram's Mathematica and plotted the position of the Flying Cloud for each day of its journey.  The route  is very interesting. For example, he heads eastward until he can go straight south to clear Brazil and then clings to the South American Coast. Rounding the Horn he heads roughly NNW until he is about 950 nautical miles west of San Francisco and the shoots eastward to port.  i am sure that the course is dictated by the prevailing winds.  Some additional trivia:

Maximum distance in a single day: 364.9 nautical miles (about 15.2 knots)

Minimum distance in a single day: 13.8 nautical miles (about 0.6 knots)

Average distance in a single day: 179.8 nautical miles (about 7.5knots)

 

Flying Cloud Voyage.jpg

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Very interesting, ragov! I just finished reading that book earlier this year...never occurred to me to try to plot out some of the voyages.

I'm going to print your map and keep it with the book. Thanks! And thanks to you, Bob, for pointing out the Ventusky site; it certainly

makes clear the reasons for the route.

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On 12/18/2017 at 7:19 PM, Roger Pellett said:

Very interesting, but it is probable that you used the wrong pronoun!  Recent scholarship indicates that the vessel was actually navigated by Cressy's wife who was in turn influenced by the hydrographic work of Matthew Fontaine Maury.

 

Roger

Thanks for reminding me.  When I was reviewing the log, I thought I remembered that his wife captained the Cloud but I didn't follow up on that thought.

 

I am in the process of inputting all the data in Appendix IV "California Voyages" to do some statistical analysis of the voyages.  Watch this space.

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Here is a comparison of the Flying Cloud 90 day voyage in 1851 with the Andrew Jackson voyage of 89 days in 1859-1860.

Maximum distance in one day:

Flying Cloud  365 miles

Andrew Jackson  414 miles

Average Speed:

Flying Cloud 7.5 knots

Andrew Jackson  7.2 knots

Total Distance traveled:

Flying Cloud 16183 nm

Andrew Jackson 15399 nm

 

I think the key to Andrew Jackson's better time is that her course was nearly 800 nm shorter.

 

I am suspect of the funny jog down near Chile.  I think the log entry might be in error. I found one clear error near San Francisco (the position was way too far west relative to the previous longitude) that I corrected with interpolation. Also on Dec 26, 28 and 31 Mr Williams, master, did not log any longitude.  I estimated the longitudes by interpolating.

 

Flying Cloud and Andrew Jackson Voyage.jpg

Edited by ragove
typo corrected
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  • 2 weeks later...

Two thoughts occur -

 

Both ships may have been staying well clear the coast until they reached the right latitude and then sailed east along the parallel until they reached the coast. Unless I was totally certain of the accuracy of my chronometer I'd be treating the longitudinal calculations not as totally reliable but "more of a set of goideloines". I wouldn't risk the safety of the ship on them unless I had to. 

 

The other thing is the prevailing winds. If they are westerly, the coast becomes a lee shore - much to be avoided. Even if they only got occasional westerlies, I'd be staying well away from the coast if possible until it was time to go into port.

 

Steven

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On 1/3/2018 at 9:18 PM, Louie da fly said:

Two thoughts occur -

 

Both ships may have been staying well clear the coast until they reached the right latitude and then sailed east along the parallel until they reached the coast. Unless I was totally certain of the accuracy of my chronometer I'd be treating the longitudinal calculations not as totally reliable but "more of a set of goideloines". I wouldn't risk the safety of the ship on them unless I had to. 

 

The other thing is the prevailing winds. If they are westerly, the coast becomes a lee shore - much to be avoided. Even if they only got occasional westerlies, I'd be staying well away from the coast if possible until it was time to go into port.

 

Steven

Those are good points. I am sure that the logs of all the California bound clippers would follow roughly the same route.  The experienced captains knew where to find the winds.

 

Ron

 

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  • 5 weeks later...

The voyage pattern changes at different times of the year. One of the major concerns are the currents. They can assist or slow a vessel. See 9.42.02 Brazilian coast. The vessels follow the sailing directions below.

The follow is from:Ocean Passages For The World; Third Edition 1973; Published by the Hydrographer of the Navy; NP136; To be obtained from the Agents for the Sale of Admiralty Charts. Taunton.

This book and attached charts contains directions for Power Vessels, and Sailing Routes.

 

These charts concern sailing vessels.

Chart 5308 - World Sailing Ship Routes.

Chart 5309 – Tracks followed by Sailing and Auxiliary Powered Vessels.

Direction from the Book

Page 149

9.44 From Canada and east coast of Untied States.

9.44.02. For Capetown and Good Hope.

Having crossed the Equator as recommended, stand across the South-east Trade Wind on the port tack, even should the vessel fall off to about 260deg, for the wind will draw more to the E as the vessel advances, and finally due E at the S limit of the Trade. When in the vicinity of Penedos de Sao Pedro e Sao Pedro, frequent astronomical observations should be made, the current should be watched and allowed for, and a good lookout should be kept, as these rocks are steep-to and can only be seen on a clear day from a distance of about 8 miles. The same precautions are necessary, if passing westward of Ilha de Fernando de Noronha, when approaching the dangerous Atol das Rocas.

On approaching the Brazilian coast between March and September, when the wind is from the SE and the current near the coast sets N, it will be better to keep from 120 to 150 miles off the land until well S, and steer so as to be windward of the port of destination; but from October to January, when the NE’ly winds prevail and the current sets SW, the coast may be approached with prudence, and a vessel may steer according to circumstances for her intended port.

9.44.03. For South American Ports, proceed as for Cape Town (9.44.02) as far as 5deg S, and then follow the directions given in articles 9.07.04 to 9.08.02, as required by the destination.

Page 141

9.07.04 From the Equator southward.

(not copied)

9.08.02. Rounding Cabo de Hornos westbound

(not copied)

Page 229

11.129 Cabo de Hornos to San Francisco and northward.

For San Francisco, having rounded Cabo de Hornos as directed in 9.08.02, stand to the NW so as to cross the parallel of 50deg S between 80deg W, and 85deg W, and then due N to 30deg N. Thence keep off to the NW, running through the South-east Trades to cross the equator between 112deg W and 115deg W, being to the E, throughout the whole voyage from Cabo de Hornos, from September to November; and to the W from June to August.

After crossing the equator, steer so as to cross the meridian of 120deg W in 13deg N to 15deg N, where the route divides into two branches, according to season.

From November to February, make for 30deg N, 132deg W, and from that position, when the W’ly winds are met, curve gradually round towards San Francisco, making it to the N, and allowing for the current setting SE across the track.

From March to October, make for 30deg N, 137deg W, and from that position, when the W’ly winds are reached at about 35deg N; again allowing for the SE-going current across the track.

For Columbia River, Juan de Fuca Strait, or Prince Rupert, follow the routes given above as far as 30deg N; then continue to the NW, curving to the E on reaching, or nearing the parallel of 45deg N, to make destination, allowing for the current as above.

 

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