- The background to the tea trade
- Chinese silver
- Treaty of Nanking
- British-built clippers
- Ocean Steam Ship Company
- The homeward passage
- Development of the ships
- The way of a ship
- A comparison of hull forms
- Development of the clipper bow
- Development of the upper stern
- Headworks and upper stem
- Disadvantage of Aberdeen clippers
- Comparison of sizes
- Hull Construction
- Construction of iron hull
- Composite construction
- Proposed tea clipper
- Ornamental deckwork
- Ornamental deckwork
- Miscellaneous fittings
- Full deck height poop
- Sail plans
- Details of tops
- Masts and spars
- Iron yards
- Steering Gear Arrangements
- Windlass and Forecastle Arrangement
- Fife Rails and Bitts
The number of boats to be supplied to a merchant ship was not fixed by law and was left to the discretion of the owner up to the time of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1854, when it was specified that boats should be adequate to the number of persons aboard. Lloyd's Rules are concerned with the safety of the ship as a whole, it being left to civil authorities to protect the safety of individuals aboard, and they simply required at that time an adequate number of boats of good quality. The Liverpool rules for iron ships by the 1860s called for three boats (lifeboat, pinnace and gig) for ships of over 400 tons, which was the minimum usually found on the tea clippers. The larger American clippers, built to take passengers, carried up to five boats.
The largest boat, dating back from naval practice, was the longboat or launch. This was carvel built, possibly diagonal or double skinned, of a length between 30 and 42 ft and proportions of length divided by beam between 3.5 to 4. The launch of the American Challenge was somewhat narrower at 26 X 9 X 3 ft 6 in. with 12 oars. The longboat, heavily built with sawn timbers like a ship, usually had removable thwarts and could stow another small boat inside it if necessary. Its use was for transporting stores, water, etc. or occasionally laying out an anchor, but when stowed on deck advantage was taken of its size by filling it with livestock pens, and even surrounding it by a portable set of rails to confine livestock on the deck. A number of American ships used to berth the longboat inside along deckhouse of which the after sides and end were removable so that the boat could be moved into the open on rollers. The British clipper Vision had this arrangement but it was a rarity on British ships. The longboat was too large to be suspended from davits and was launched by tackle from yardarms or a special strong stay slung between the fore apd main masts, called a triatic sta y . It carried between 10 and 12 oars which could be shipped in semicircular metal crutches; with wooden thole pins ; or in metal-Iined notches which were cut into an additional wash strake above the sheerstrake and gunwale.
The average equipment for a composite clipper would be a longboat on deck, or a gig on the deckhouse with two lifeboats on skids with possibly a small jolly boat between them. The lifeboats were double ended, as also at times the yawl, all others having transom sterns of varying fullness.
Davits were fitted each side on the after quarters for quarterboats which were usually yawls or small cutters if kept permanently hung outboard, as was the case with many of the earlier American clippers and British East Indiamen.
Later, stronger davits would be fitted for two lifeboats on the skid beams. Quarterboats were not so vulnerable as would appear at first sight when swung outboard, although there were occasions when they did go by the board, as did boats stowed on chocks on the deck or on skid beams. The quarterboat davits were weak in design in the 1840s and 50s, resembling in shape a straight round bar, bent rather sharpl y in the top portion. Later davits had the quarter-circle radius bend, as seen today, and were stronger. The earliest type of davit tackle hung from a simple swivel hook from the ball at the end of the davit, and the guy and span attached below the ball could get tangled if the davit was swung round.
The tip of the early davits was sometimes merely a slight swelling in the diameter with a vertical hole for the hooked bolt, or else a cube shape with corners rounded off. It was late in the century before the spectacle plate was fixed atop the ball, for the guys and span to prevent this fouling.
Other boats were :
Cutter: 22-32 ft; L/B=3.5 to 4 6 to 8 oars, clinker built
Jolly boat: 16-22 ft ; L/B=3 to 3.5; clinker built
Yawl: 23-30 ft L/B=3.5 to 4; carvel built
Dinghy: 12-14ft ; L/B=3; clinker built
Gig: 22-28 ft ; L/B=4.5 to 5; clinker built
Lifeboat: 24-30 ft ; L/B=3.5 to 4 ;clinker built
The boat gripes for quarterboats were rope spans attached to the lower part of the davits then led under the boat, over the gunwales, and down to an inverted hook on the davit or bulwark. A ring on the end of each gripe slipped over the hook and was held fast when the boat falls were tightened. Sometimes alight griping spar was fitted between the davits, but not of the heavy padded type one sees on modern vessels. In heavy weather the quarterboats would be hove up tight to the davit heads and lashed to them slightly canted.
By the 1860s and 70s lifeboats were stowed either upright or inverted on strong skid beams spanning from bulwark to bulwark, and secured by separate gripes on each side of the boat, with a special sliplink tightened by a lanyard. If stowed upright, the boats would rest in shaped chocks, the outboard part being hinged so that by releasing a locking pin with a mallet it would fall down completely clear of the top of the skid beam, thus enabling the boat to be slid or skidded outboard to the davits. The inboard chock would also hinge down if there was a third, middle, boat on the skids to be slid to the davits. The spacing of the skid beams supported the boats at about one-seventh of their lengths from each end. The davits were the round bar radial type of modern pattern which could be held in sockets either inboard or outboard. At sea the davits would be triced together by their fall tackle, and in coastal waters the boats would usually be swung outboard in readiness.
British boat gunwales were built with a solid top or cap but it was usual for American boats to have open gunwales with the timber heads exposed. The practice of fitting covers on boats dates from the steamships, which emitted much soot and cinders. Sailing vessels usually kept their boats open as this helped preserve them against rot, and any water accumulating inside helped to keep them tight; there was always a drain hole to release any excess. Later in the century we find wooden covers fitted, and canvas ones with a ridge pole, tightened on buttons around the gunwale, although there is mention of the Challenge of 1851 being fitted with awnings for her boats. There was no rule about this. The looped grab lines were seldom seen on the clipper ships' boats but eventually became a requirement for lifeboats. Up to approximately midcentury the suspension hooks or rings for the boats were on short slings attached to the keel close up to the bow and stern and the boat was prevented from canting by steadying lines from each side of the hull to the sling. Later in the century the sling hooks were on rigid bars not quite so far apart, and supported at their top ends by passing through a short thwart or platform. Sometimes the sling hooks were attached to the upper inner side of the stern and sternpost or transom, and contemporary paintings of the earlier American clippers suggest this in some instances for the quarterboats.
Good boats were made of teak or mahogany planking, or at least their sheerstrakes, with larch, cedar or pine planking. Their proportions and form varied considerably with their origin, some being built in the shipyard and others by small boat builders, and the captain frequently had his own small gig for pleasure sailing. The names given to the various forms of boats originated from their usage rather than a specific build, and it is difficult to identify precisely what was meant by a given name. 'Cutter' in particular was loosely used for a variety of boats which could be carvel or clinker built. American boats tended to be carvel built more often than the British. The drawings indicate average forms, sheer, etc. for British boats; American boats being similar for the most part, although there were some types indigenous to the American builders, with pronounced sheer more like their whaleboats and rather narrower. At one time the term 'cutter built' was synonymous with 'clinker built'.
For other forms of lifesaving there was often a type of lifebuoy carried on the poop for quick release. Up to the 1850s this was in the form ofa cross with two copper ball floats on the end of each arm, and afoot stirrup at the bottom whereby a person could stand upright in the water while holding the top part of the cross, which also could carry a small pennant. Later a horseshoe lifebuoy made of cork was introduced, the two arms being hinged at the middle, to which was attached a small staff and pennant, weighted at the bottom to keep it vertical. Later still came the well known circular lifebuoy made of cork, 30 in. in diameter with a cross-section of 6 X 4 in., covered with stitched canvas; but this type was seldom seen on the tea clippers until later in their life.