Sea Witch, 46 x 48.
Wilson wrote in November, 1983, a letter to the painting's owner:
As you requested, here are some notes about the ship, Sea Witch.
In 1846, following successes with their ship, Rainbow, which was
designed by John W. Griffiths, Howland and Aspinwall, a New York
trading and banking partnership, ordered a larger ship. Using
Griffiths' ideas, Stephen Smith, of Smith and Dimon, a shipbuilding
firm in New York, designed Sea Witch for the China trade. She was to
be commanded by Captain Robert H. Waterman. Griffiths was given full
credit for the basic ideas of her design, and his original sail plan
for her is in the Smithsonian museum. Her hull lines were published in
the New York dailies, and a copy appears in The Search for Speed under
Sail, by Howard Chappelle, Bonanza Press, New York, 1968, page 238.
Unfortunately, no deck plan exits. She measured 178 feet 2 inches deck
length, by 33 feet beam, and she could carry 1000 tons, drawing 19
feet 6 inches. Actually, she was not an extremely fast sailer, 16
knots being about her limit. (This is because of her length. The bow
wave rolls back under the ship if it is long enough, and gives it a
"downhill" ride. This explains the 21-knot speed of years later of
Lightning, which measured 243 feet.) In 1848, Sea Witch, under Captain
Waterman, sailed from New York by way of Africa and the Indian Ocean,
to Hong Kong in 77 days. This time has never been equaled under sail.
At the same time, Rainbow went down "missing all hands," and the firm
of Howland and Aspinwall had temporary financial trouble when Sea
Witch showed up early from her first China run. Accounts of her
voyages can be found in C.C. Cutler's Greyhounds of the Sea, and
Chichester's Along the Clipper Way.She is painted running free n a
starboard tack at sunset in the South China Sea. The flag on her main
truck is the House flag of Howland and Aspinwall.
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