The Baltimore Clippe

The Baltimore Clippe

The arteries of existence for the American colonists lay upon the waters

and it was a necessity to develop fast sailing craft to outsail and outwit the mighty British fleet.

This was accomplished through an ingenious departure from the ponderous European approach to naval architecture.

The graceful vessels that resulted from this necessity, reached their optimum during the War of 18 12 and became known as Baltimore clippers.

Their simple clean design may have been influenc ed by earlier Bermudian shipwrights but this is not certain .

It was on the shores of Chesapeake Bay that the type of hull was developed and their lofty rig created .

The vessels were not large, probably less than sixty feet when they first appeared as pilot boats racing out from the Virginia Capes to meet incoming ships.

Pilot cra ft had to be fast, seaworthy, and simple to handle to compete in that calling.

Often they would have to spend many days on station, risk

the possibil ities of foul weather; and return to port with only a few hands aboard a fter discharging their complement of pilots.

The boats built on this Virginia model did not have to consider cargo capacity and the hulls were given great deadrise, good beam, a nd a lo ng clean run .

The Baltimore Clippe They were rigged as schooners, usually without shrouds staying the masts.

The absence o f shrouds may appear fri ghtening and each mast was raked at a devilish angle.

The foremast was placed well forward and the fo resail was boomless; the loose-foo ted sail overlapped the main and sheeted to the rail.

It was from this Virginia pilot model that the Chesapeake clippers bega n. To further their versatility, more spa rs and sails were added .

To pmasts were rigged aloft, the bowsprit was extended with a jibboom, and yards were crossed to spread squaresails. Shrouds became a necessity to support the extra weight a nd strain.

The additional sail area soon reached unheard o f proportions but this was to be their triumph and salvation;

The Baltimore Clippe the cra ft could sail in the lightest of airs when their cumbersome adversaries or victims were becalmed.

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