The Flying Cloud was a clipper ship that set the world's sailing record for the fastest passage between New York and San Francisco, 89 days 8 hours. She held this record for over 100 years, from 1854-1989.
Flying Cloud was the most famous of the clippers built by Donald McKay. She was known for her extremely close race with the Hornet in 1853, for having a woman navigator, Eleanor Creesy, wife of Josiah Perkins Creesy who skippered the Flying Cloud on two record-setting voyages from New York to San Francisco, and for sailing in the Australia and timber trades.
Flying Cloud is popularly called an extreme clipper, as are many of Donald McKay's ships, but as her dead rise was less than 40" she was not. Donald McKay built many fast clipper ships but only one, the Stag Hound was an extreme clipper, even if others may have been advertised as such. It was popular to advertise clippers as "extreme" because of the popular conception of speed.
Flying Cloud was built in East Boston, Massachusetts, and intended for Enoch Train of Boston, who paid $50,000 for her construction. She was purchased at launching by Grinnell, Minturn & Co., of New York, for $90,000, which represented a huge profit for Train & Co.
A reporter for the Boston Daily Atlas of April 25, 1851 wrote, "If great length [235 ft.], sharpness of ends, with proportionate breadth [41 ft.] and depth, conduce to speed, the Flying Cloud must be uncommonly swift, for in all these she is great. Her length on the keel is 208 feet, on deck 225, and over all, from the knightheads to the taffrail, 235— extreme breadth of beam 41 feet, depth of hold 21½, including 7 feet 8 inches height of between-decks, sea-rise at half floor 20 inches, rounding of sides 6 inches, and sheer about 3 feet."
An extreme clipper launched in 1851, at the shipyard of Donald McKay, East Boston, for Enoch Train, Boston.
If great length, sharpness of ends, with proportionate breadth and depth, conduce to speed, the Flying Cloud must be uncommonly swift, for in all these she is great. Her length on the keel is 208 feet, on deck 225, and over all, from the knight heads to the taffrail, 235 — extreme breadth of beam 41 feet, depth of hold 21½, including 7 feet 8 inches height of between-decks, dead-rise at half floor 20 inches, rounding of sides 6 inches, and sheer about 3 feet.
Duncan McLean in The Boston Daily Atlas, April 25, 1851.
1851 April - Purchased by Grinell, Minturn & Co, New York, for $ 90.000. 1851 April 15 - Launched at East Boston. 1851 June 2 — August 31 - Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 89 days 21 hours under command of Captain Josiah Perkins Cressey. On July 31 she made 374 miles. 1852 January 6 — April 9 - Sailed from Whampoa to New York in 94 days.
1852 December 1 — March 8 - Sailed from Whampoa to New York in 96 days. 1853 April 28 — August 12 - Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 105 days. 1854 January 21 — April 20 - Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 89 days 8 hours. 1854 July 20 — November 24 - Sailed from Whampoa to New York in 115 days. 1855 September 5 — December 14 - Sailed from Whampoa to New York in 99 days. 1856 March 13 — September 14 - Sailed from New York to San Francisco in 185 days under command of Captain Reynard. She is reputed to have sailed 402 miles in 24 hours during that trip. 1856 May 10 — June 23 Partially dismasted en route San Francisco and put into Rio de Janeiro for repairs where her spars were cut down before she proceeded. 1856 September 14 — 1857 January 4 - Laid up in San Francisco. 1857 April - 1859 December 8 - Laid up in New York. The spars were cut down once more in 1858. 1861 February 28 — May 24 - Sailed from London (Deal) to Melbourne in 85 days. 1862 - Bought by Mackay & Co, Liverpool, for their Queensland service, but instead mortaged to the Forwood family, Liverpool. Sailed for James Baines' "Black Ball Line". 1870 June 4 — August 30 - Sailed from London to Hervey's Bay in 87 days under command of Captain Owen. 1871 April 19 - After James Baines & Co. had suspended payment, Arthur Forwood took possession of the ship and sold her to Harry Smith Edwards of South Shields. 1874 June 19 - Went ashore on the Beacon Island bar, St Johns and was condemned and sold. 1875 June - Was burned for her copper and metal fastenings.