Friday, February 20, 2015

 CSS Virginia

CSS Virginia Modern artist's rendition of the CSS Virginia's first voyage
       As one of the world’s earliest iron-clad warships the CSS Virginia, along with her Civil War counterpart the USS Monitor, forever changed the history of sailing and naval warfare. Rising from the burned hull of the frigate USS Merrimack, the CSS Virginia was constructed at the Gosport Navy Yard, now the Norfolk Naval Yard, in Virginia. Originally launched in 1855 from Boston Navy Yard, the Merrimack was the first of six screw frigates constructed for the Union. After becoming the flagship for the Pacific Squadron in 1857, the Merrimack returned to Norfolk and was decommissioned in 1860. When the Commonwealth of Virginia seceded from the Union on April 17, 1861 the USS Merrimack was blockaded in the channel between Craney Island andSewell’s Point. Three days later, on April 20th, retreating Union forces made the decision to scuttle the Merrimack, burning it to the water line before sinking the vessel. Unfortunately for the Union the ship was only partially burned, sank in shallow waters where she was easily retrievable, and on May 30 the South was able to raise and salvage her. With the majority of the lower hull and machinery intact it was decided that the ship would be retrofitted as the first iron-clad, steam-powered warship for the Confederacy.     
       After removing the damaged sections of hull the remaining hull was cut down to accommodate a slanted casemate top, and the deck was then covered with solid sheet iron. Layers of hard woods were laid upon the ship, and additional sheets of iron were added for reinforcement, before ten cannons, four guns, and a bow battering ram completed the design. Launched on March 7, 1862 the CSS Virginia had a short, yet impactful presence on both the Civil War and the future of naval ship design. At 275 feet long, 22 feet from top to bottom, and bedecked with iron plating and heavy weaponry, the CSS Virginia emerged a truly menacing ship. Assuming command just days after arriving in port, Captain Franklin Buchanan took the CSS Virginia out to sea and on March 8 entered her into the legendary Battle at Hampton Roads.

 Flying Cloud

Built by Donald McKay in East Boston, Massachusetts in 1851, the Flying Cloud could be considered the fastest clipper ship of its time. Intended for the company Enoch Train of Boston, who paid $50,000 for her construction, the ship was sold prior to her actual completion to Grinnel, Minturn & Co. of New York for a sum of $90,000. Six weeks after her initial launch the Flying Cloud made headlines around the world with her record setting sail from New York to San Francisco, around South America’s Cape Horn, in 89 days, 21 hours. Commanded by Captain Josiah Perkins Creesy the brilliant clipper travelled almost 125 miles a day for three days straight. Two years later the Flying Cloud broke her own record for the journey by 13 hours. In addition to her breathtaking speed on these journeys, the Flying Cloud was significant in that her navigator was Eleanor Creesy, wife of Captain Creesy. While this may not seem a fact of note today, in the mid-1850s having a female navigator aboard ship was quite out of the ordinary

 Star of India

Star of India was built in 1863 as Euterpe, a full-rigged iron windjammer ship in Ramsey, Isle of Man. After a full career sailing from Great Britain to India then to New Zealand, she became a salmon hauler on the Alaska then to California route. After retirement in 1926, she was restored between 1962 and 1963 and is now a seaworthy museum ship ported at the San Diego Maritime Museum in San Diego, United States. She is the oldest ship that still sails regularly and the oldest iron hulled merchant ship still floating. The ship is both a California and United States National Historic Landmark.

 America's Cup "Enterprise"

In the midst of America’s financial crisis, in the late 1920s, a yacht was being designed that would emerge as the first of a new breed. Incorporating a sleek new style, and crafted using an assortment of lightweight metals, the Enterprise yacht would soon enter into the 14th America’s Cup Race. As the oldest international trophy competition in the world, the races allowed yacht clubs across the globe to compete for the chance to claim the title and bring the trophy home to their country. However, the previous race winning New York Yacht Club had been in possession of the trophy for 60 years, and was a favorite to defeat the challenging Royal Ulster Yacht Club.

 America's Cup Defender "Lionheart"

America' Cup Defender "Lionheart"

Yacht Lionheart Under Sails  photo by Ed Holt
 Atlantic Schooner Yacht

Commissioned by New York Yacht Club member Wilson Marshall, the Atlantic was launched in 1903. William Gardner, one of America's foremost designers of large yachts, designed her. From the moment Atlantic went to sea, it was clear that she was an exceptionally fast and beautiful schooner. When a yacht in 1903 hits twenty knots during her sea trials, she is a promising yacht, but even then nobody could imagine two years later this yacht would set a record that would stand unmatched for almost a century.
Nevertheless, while Wilson Marshall wanted Atlantic to be the fastest schooner on the water, at the same time he felt there was no reason to compromise on comfort. Unlike contemporary racing schooners, Atlantic was equipped with every imaginable luxury. Fitted out with the finest mahogany panelling, she had two steam driven generators powering up the electric lights, refrigerators and a large galley. On deck her halyard winches and primary sheet winches were steam driven too. She had two double and three single staterooms, a lobby, a large full beam saloon, a dining room, a chart & gunroom, three large bathrooms and in the deckhouse there was a comfortable observation room. She had retractable chimneys, so while under sail the below deck steam heating, lighting and refrigerating systems could keep running. Atlantic's fo'c'sle accommodated her thirty-nine strong crew and officers, who would live aboard throughout the year.

Schooner Atlantic
Catspaw Sailboat Racing


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