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. The ship 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 Hornet in 1853; for having a woman navigator, Eleanor Creesy, wife of Josiah Perkins Creesy who skippered Flying Cloud on two record-setting voyages from New York to San Francisco; and for sailing in the Australia and timber trades.
World record voyage to San Francisco during Gold Rush
Within six weeks of launch Flying Cloud sailed from New York and made San Francisco ’round Cape Horn in 89 days, 21 hours under the command of Captain Josiah Perkins Creesy. In July, during the trip, she ran the following nautical mileage, 284, 374 and 334 for 992 nautical miles total over the three consecutive days. In 1853 she beat her own record by 13 hours, a record that stood until 1989 when the breakthrough-designed sailboat Thursday’s Child completed the passage in 80 days, 20 hours. The record was once again broken in 2008 by the French racing yacht Gitana 13, with a time of 43 days and 38 minutes.
In the early days of the California Gold Rush, it took more than 200 days for a ship to travel from New York to San Francisco, a voyage of more than 16,000 miles.Flying Cloud’s better-than-halving that time (only 89 days) was a headline-grabbing world record that the ship itself beat three years later, setting a record that lasted for 136 years.
Flying Cloud’s achievement was remarkable under any terms. But, writes David W. Shaw, it was all the more unusual because her navigator was a woman, Eleanor Creesy, who had been studying oceanic currents, weather phenomena, and astronomy since her girlhood in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She was one of the first navigators to exploit the insights of Matthew Fontaine Maury, most notably the course recommended in his Sailing Directions. With her husband, ship captain Josiah Perkins Cressy, she logged many thousands of miles on the ocean, traveling around the world carrying passengers and goods. In the wake of their record-setting transit from New York to California, Eleanor and Josiah became instant celebrities. But their fame was short-lived and their story quickly forgotten. Josiah died in 1871 and Eleanor lived far from the sea until her death in 1900.
Loss of the ship
On June 19, 1874, Flying Cloud went ashore on the Beacon Island bar, Saint John, New Brunswick, and was condemned and sold. The following June she was burned for the scrap metal value of her copper and iron fastenings.
Text from Wikipedia