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Generally, the history of Clippers is quite curious. They were called clippers because of the very high speeds they could reach in favourable weather. The first ones appeared during the American war of Independence, when they were used as blockade runners. Later on and owing to their great speed, they were used in the Opium and the slave trade. However the govemment of the U.S.A. countered this move by arming their own clippers.
The American clippers really came into their own when California was incorporated as a state of the Union in 1848. lt has been discovered that California had a great deal of natural wealth, as yet developed and many people from the East coast preferred to emigrate there by fasten passage, rather than join the across land wagon trains which were not only slow but could be very dangerous. The gold strike in 1849 also encouraged people to pour into California and Clippers such as HARVEY were extensively used to transport business-men, provisions and utensils to that great land. Some of the cargoes were so valuable that their armaments were retained to deal with any pirates who crossed their paths. lt is worth remembering that all this happened before the Panama Canal had been built so the journey was round the Horn. The demand was so important that many ships, induding HARVEY caused San Francisco to triple its population in only 10 years.
The main American Clippers were principally built in Baltimore by William Webb and in Boston by Donald McKay. The hull was designed for reaching high speeds, built with many sails and an uncluttered deck. This was so that a maximum cargo could be stowed and also so that the sailors attending the sails could have as much free room to work as possible, as it was so important that the several sails could be furled and unfurled as soon as possible and without loosing a minute.
The fierce storms round the Horn demanded this ability to trim sails quickly and some fast times were recorded; for example, New York to California in 89 days.
The early Clippers had only two masts such as the HARVEY, hut for the ever increasing demand for speed and volume, the later clippers were built with three masts and up to about 4000 square meters of sail.
But the death knell of the Clippers appeared with progress as soon as the railroads were extended, the Panama Canal planned and especially when the Suez-Canal was developed in 1870's. They were to become uneconomic - hut who can forget the amazing exploits of the Clippers such as HARVEY, in that golden age of sailing ships.
L'histoire des clippers est en général très curieuse. On les appellait Clippers en raison des vitesses élévées qu'ils atteignaient, ils furent spécialement conçus à cet effet. Ils étaient utilisés dans des circonstances très variées: pendant la Guerre d'Indépendance nordamericaine; plus tard, us servirent au trafie de l'opium et des eselaves et à partir de 1848, avec la découverte de l'or en Californie, ils se convertirent en navires de transport.
Les clippers tels que le HARVEY transportèrent de l'Est à l'Ouest non seulement des chercheurs d'or, mais aussi des hommes d'affaires, des vivres, des ustensiles vers cette nouvelle terre riche et ils ne mettaient que 89 jours pour aller de New York jusqu'à la Californie en passant par le Cap Horn.
La plupart des clippers étaient construits à Baltimore par William Webb et par Donald McKay à Boston. La forme de la coque était conçue pour atteindre de grandes vitesses, de nombreuses voiles constituaient le gréement et un encombrement minimum du pont permettait le stockage de lourdes cargaisons. D'autre part, les marins disposaient d'un grand espace pour travailler; il était également très important que les voiles puissent être rapidement pliées et dépliées.
Au début, les Clippers n'avaient que deux mâts, comme c'était le cas du HARVEY, mais vu la demande croissante, ils eurent 3 mâts et une voilure pouvant atteindre jusqu'à 4,000 m². Mais leur vie devait s'arrêter à cause du progres: apparition du chemin de fer, ouverture des canaux de Suez et de Panama; ils cessaient ainsi d'être rentables.
Néanmoins, qui peut de nos jours oublier l'histoire des clippers comme le HARVEY, de cette époque en or pour la voile et qui fait partie de notre propre histoire.