Witchcraft (clipper)

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Name: Witchcraft
Owner: S. Rogers & W.D. Pickman, Salem
Builder: Samuel Hall, Chelsea, MA[1]
Launched: Dec. 21, 1850[2]
Name: "Sold to T. Magoun & Sons, Boston, for $66,000"
Acquired: 1854[3]
Fate: Lost Apr. 8, 1861, "enroute to Hampton Roads, VA, from [Callao]], Peru. Went ashore on Chicamanconic in sight of Cape Hatteras and Bodie Lights and was pounded to pieces."[2]
General characteristics
Class and type: Extreme clipper
Tons burthen: 1310 tons[1]
Length: 193 ft. OA
Beam: 39 ft. 4 in.
Draft: 22 ft
Notes: 2 decks. Designed by Samuel H. Pook[2]

The Witchcraft was an 1850 extreme clipper built for the California and China trade. She made record passages from Rio de Janeiro to San Francisco, and from San Francisco to Callao, Peru.


The Witchcraft was described as a very beautiful ship, with a figurehead of "a grim Salem witch riding upon her aerial broomstick."[1]

Record voyages

Witchcraft was commanded by Captain William C. Rogers, a son of one of the owners. [1]

In 1851 she sailed from New York to San Francisco in 128 days, of which 21 days was spent in Rio de Janeiro to replace the mizzen mast. [4]"The continued voyage from Rio de Janeiro took 62 days which is the fastest passage on record." [3] The Game Cock, a clipper "of similar tonnage" which had left New York for San Francisco one day earlier, was also pushing hard and spent 57 days in Rio for repairs to her mainmast, resulting in a 128 day passage. [4]

In 1852, on a voyage from San Francisco to Hong Kong she lost her main and mizzen masts with all sails and rigging attached, during a severe typhoon in the China Sea. [1]

In 1854, she “sailed from New York to San Francisco in 98 days” and “San Francisco to Callao in 32 days. This is the fastest passage on record.” [3]

Other ports of call during her career included Boston, Shanghai, Manila, Melbourne, and Mauritius. [3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Clark, Arthur H. (1910). The Clipper Ship Era, An Epitome of Famous American and British Clipper Ships, Their Owners, Builders, Commanders, and Crews, 1843-1869. Camden, ME: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. pp. 136, 140, 302, 350, etc.. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Crothers, William L. (1997). The American-Built Clipper Ship, 1850-1856: Characteristics, Construction, Details. Camden, ME: International Marine. pp. xv, etc.. ISBN 0070145016. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Bruzelius, Lars (2000-01-12). "Clipper Ships: Witchcraft (1850)". The Maritime History Virtual Archives. http://www.bruzelius.info/Nautica/Ships/Clippers/Witchcraft%281850%29.html. Retrieved May 10, 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cutler, Carl C. (1960). Greyhounds of the Sea. Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. pp. 179-180. 

External links