Balclutha (1886)

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Balclutha at her mooring in San Francisco.
Career (United Kingdom) UK Civil Ensign
Name: Balclutha
Builder: Charles Connell & Co. Ltd.
Launched: December 06, 1886
Commissioned: January 15, 1887
Fate: Museum ship since 1954
General characteristics
Type: Three-masted full-rigged ship
Tonnage: 1,689 GT (gross tonnage)
1,614 NT (net tonnage)
Displacement: ca. 4,100 tons
Tons burthen: 2,650 tons (2,692 tonnes)
Length: 301 ft (92 m)
Beam: 38.6 ft (11.8 m)
Height: 145 ft (44 m)
Draught: 20.3 ft (6.2 m)
Depth of hold: 22.7 ft (6.9 m)
Propulsion: sails
Sail plan: rigged with royal sails over double top & single topgallant sails; 25 sails all in all
Complement: 26; under the APA flag ~ 210

Balclutha, also known as Star of Alaska, Pacific Queen, or Sailing Ship BALCLUTHA, is a steel-hulled full rigged ship that was built in 1886. She is the only square rigged ship left in the San Francisco Bay area and is representative of several different commercial ventures, including lumber, salmon, and grain. She is a U.S. National Historic Landmark and is currently preserved at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California.


The Balclutha was built in 1886 by Charles Connell & Co. Ltd., of Glasgow in Scotland, for Robert McMillan, of Dumbarton in Scotland. Her namesake is said to be the eponymous city Balclutha, New Zealand, but her name can also refer to her first homeport, Glasgow, Scotland, which is a "City on the Clyde" - the meaning of her name derived from the Gaelic Baile Chluaidh. Designed as a general trader, Balclutha rounded Cape Horn 17 times in 13 years. During this period she carried cargoes such as wine, case oil, and coal from Europe and the East Coast of the United States to various ports in the Pacific. These included Chile for nitrate, Australia and New Zealand for wool, Burma for rice, San Francisco for grain, and the Pacific Northwest for timber.

In 1899 the Balclutha transferred to the registry of Hawaii, and traded timber from the Pacific Northwest to Australia, returning to San Francisco with Australian coal.

In 1902 the Balclutha was chartered to the Alaska Packers' Association. After having struck Sitkin island near Kodiak on May 16, 1904, she was renamed the Star of Alaska when bought by APA for merely $500. After extended repairs she joined the salmon fishing trade, sailing north from the San Francisco area to the Chignik Bay, Alaska, in April with supplies, fishermen, and cannery workers, and returned in September with a cargo of canned salmon. For this trade she carried over 200 crew and passengers, as compared to the 26 man crew she carried as the Balclutha. In 1911 the poop deck was extended to the main mast to accommodate Italian and Scandinavian workers. In the 'tween deck bunks for Chinese workers were built in. Her last voyage in this trade was in 1930, when she then was laid up after her return home.

In 1933, the Star of Alaska was renamed the Pacific Queen by her new owner Frank Kissinger. In this guise she appeared in the film Mutiny on the Bounty starring Clark Gable and Charles Laughton. She then eked out an existence as an exhibition ship, gradually deteriorating.

In 1954, the Pacific Queen was acquired by the San Francisco Maritime Museum, who restored her and renamed her back to Balclutha. In 1985 she was designated a National Historic Landmark.[1][2]

She is now one of the exhibits of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and is to be found moored at the park's Hyde Street Pier.

As well as being exhibited, she is host to a monthly sea shanty sing-around.

See also

U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
Location: Pier 41 East, San Francisco, California
Coordinates: 37°48′34″N 122°24′42″W / 37.80944°N 122.41167°W / 37.80944; -122.41167Coordinates: 37°48′34″N 122°24′42″W / 37.80944°N 122.41167°W / 37.80944; -122.41167
Built/Founded: 1886
Architect: Charles Connell
Governing body: National Park Service
Added to NRHP: November 07, 1976[3]
NRHP Reference#: 76000178

Four other Clyde-built tall ships are still afloat:

Image gallery

See also


External links

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