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DONALD McKAY & THE FLYING CLOUD
Front, Reverse, & Side Views
Scrimshaw box. African elephant ivory
with 'flame' koa wood top and bottom, and ivory finial.
6"H x 2.5"W x 2"D

Private Collection

DETAIL of DONALD McKAY & THE FLYING CLOUD

Donald McKay (1810-1880) was the most famous ship designer and builder of his day. At age 16 he began to learn his trade in the shipyards of New York. Before the age of 30 he was a master shipwright, and at 34 he opened his famous shipyard in East Boston. His shipyard produced nearly 60 vessels, including Lightning, Staghound, Sovereign of The Seas, Great Republic, and of course, Flying Cloud.

The Flying Cloud was launched on April 15, 1851 and was fitted out for the California trade. On June 2, 1851 she departed New York harbor on her maiden voyage, bound for San Francisco via Cape Horn. On August 31, just 89 days and 21 hours later she was anchored in San Francisco harbor, shattering the previous record. On her fourth voyage in 1854 she lowered the time by another 13 hours, a record that has never been beaten by a square-rigged vessel.



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