News from 1854: Red Jacket's maiden arrival at Melbourne

Mark Baber

Dec 29, 2000
The Argus, Melbourne, 17 July 1854
Retrieved from the National Library of Australia web site,

The Red Jacket, one of the finest clipper ships in the world, dropped her
anchor in Hobson's Bay yesterday morning at an early hour. She passed
through the Heads at eleven a. m. on Thursday last, without the assistance
of a pilot, and was detained there for want of wind till the following
morning, when, at five a. m., she got under weigh, but shortly afterwards it
fell a dead calm, and she was compelled to come-to again in the quarantine
ground. This spot was selected as a matter of convenience, and not from any
disease having broken out in the ship. The Hercules steam-tug ran down to
the assistance of the Red Jacket, but was unable to tow her, and she was
brought up under the charge of one of the pilots. From the report of the
commander, the ship has met with unusually light N.E. and S.E. trade winds,
the latter hanging far to the S., and, on their termination, in 22°, they
met with hard strong head winds at S. and S.S.W., till reaching 2° of the E.
of the meridian of Greenwich, thus preventing the possibility of following
out, rigidly, the principle of great circle sailing, which was adopted by
Captain Reed from the Cape to Hobson's Bay. The greatest distance
accomplished by this exquisite specimen of naval architecture in 24 hours,
was the incredible run of four hundred and two miles, and the time occupied
in her passage from the longitude of the Cape, taking it at 21° E., was only
seventeen days and ten hours! The Red Jacket was thus 67 day and 10 hours
under canvass, and has fully realized the most sanguine expectations of all
who had seen this fine ship --- having performed the passage from England to
this country in a shorter space of time than any other sailing vessel has
succeeded in doing. Although we have on a former occasion given rather a
lengthened description of this vessel, we cannot refrain from again giving a
further outline of her proportions and build.

The fine clipper ship Red Jacket was built by Mr. Taylor, of New York,
expressly for the Australian passenger trade, and is the crack production of
that eminent builder, having made her first voyage to Liverpool in the
unprecedentedly short period of thirteen days four hours meantime, in the
face of the terrific gales of January last. Her dimensions are:-Registered
tonnage, 2460 tons; burthen, 4000 tons; length over all, 265 feet; depth of
hold, 24 feet; height between decks, 8 feet. Her model is the perfect 'beau
ideal' of the clipper form, combining extreme sharpness both fore and aft,
with ample beam amidships to enable her to carry an ample spread of canvass.
The following are her arrangements for the accommodation of the various
classes of passengers:

"The poop is divided into two saloons, designated in the plan as the ladies'
saloon and the dining saloon, communicating with each other, but having
separate entrances, the former by a staircase aft, and the latter by two
doorways from the main deck. The ladies' saloon is a most luxuriantly fitted
up apartment, 23 ½ by 18 feet in dimensions, panelled throughout with the
richest cabinet woods elaborately ornamented with glided moulding and scroll
work, and carpeted and furnished in the first style of elegance. It contains
three large state-rooms, with two berths each, and a family state-room,
containing four berths. Two recesses are left, one on either side of the
saloon, each of which contains a table and sofa, over which are fixed superb
mirrors. A private closet has been fitted up, leading from this saloon for
the exclusive use of females, that for gentlemen being entered by the
staircase from on deck. The captain's state-room is aft of the ladies'
saloon, with one entrance into it, and another by the staircase. Large
windows open from each state-room, which can be protected by storm shutters.
In the centre of the apartment is an elegant table, over which is a
skylight, with moveable sides. The ventilation of the state-rooms is
additionally provided for by perforations through the scroll work,
surmounting the doors and panelling.

"The dining saloon is entered by two doors from the ladles' saloon, and two
from the main deck, and is a most commodious apartment, very chastely
decorated, and permanently fitted up in the best style adopted on bond of
our largest sea going steamers. It contains on one side three unusually
spacious state-rooms for families, the remaining portion of the length being
occupied by the steward's pantry, and on the other five large state-rooms
with two berths in each. The dining table runs along the centre, and is
furnished with richly cushioned sofas, with turnover backs. It is abundantly
lighted from the poop deck; and each state-room has windows similar to the
ladles' saloon. Forward of this on each side are officers' rooms. The plate,
glass, dinner services, &c, provided for the saloons, are of the most
elegant description.

"The house on deck is fitted up with great taste, and its arrangements
especially adapted for families, who may wish for privacy during the voyage.
The centre portion of it is divided by a bulk head carried down the middle;
and each half contains three state-rooms of six feet in width and one of
three feet wide outside, for the purpose of messing, promenade, &c. Forward
of the smaller-sized rooms are three more six-feet rooms, each with
independent entrances from the deck, which are intended for the officers of
the ship. The galleys are in this part of the ship, the passengers' being
aft, and that of the crew adjoining. Both are of the best construction, and
must be most efficient. The house on deck is ventilated by windows all
round, similar to those of the saloons.

"The between decks are unusually spacious, as might be expected from the
great beam and tonnage of the ship. The whole of the amid-ships is fitted up
with second-cabin berths, for two and four persons in each, arranged fore
and aft. The whole is excellently ventilated, both by side light and from on
deck, and there is ample room outside the berths, along the centre - in
fact, double what is generally found in emigrant ships - for dining tables,
promenading, and other purposes. The Red Jacket is commanded by Captain
Reed, who his had eighteen years' experience in the Eastern Seas, and is
well known for his gentlemanly demeanor and uniform attention to his

Captain Reed intends remaining here no longer than ten days, and therefore
all who would be gratified by a sight of the Red Jacket, should procure
orders as early as possible. There are bets upon this ship and the
Lightning, expected in next Saturday, to many thousands of pounds, and we
are informed that the deepest possible interest exists amongst the
merchants of Liverpool, as to which of those splendid sailing vessels will
make the quickest passage; and that immense sums have been freely laid upon
the ship now under the command of Captain Reed. We understand that a serious
case, involving consequences of a grave nature, took place amongst some of
the cabin passengers, but through the great firmness of the commander, it
was suppressed before any amount of mischief was done. The interference of
passengers with the masters of sailing vessels is a matter of serious
moment, and it would be well for the Commissioners of Emigration to take
cognizance of such irregularities. The necessity of such a precaution is
evidenced by the frequency of similar occurrences and steps should be taken
at once to suppress an evil of so alarming a nature. The present case will
come under judicial investigation, when we will lay the facts before our

The following address has been presented to Captain Reed by the
passengers: -

To Samuel Reed, Esq., Commander Red Jacket

We, the undersigned, in the name of the majority of the steerage passengers,
cannot think of parting from you without returning you our grateful thanks,
that, under Divine Providence, you have landed us in safety after the
unprecedented short passage of 66 ½ days.

We highly appreciate your conduct to us as a gentleman and a man of feeling,
and we have had ample proof of your experience, coolness, and judgment as a
commander and seaman. We wish also to express similar testimony to our first
and second officers, and we heartily wish that the noble and splendid ship
you command, unsurpassed we believe by any afloat, will make many successful
trips, and prove a prosperous vessel to the owners of the White Star Line of
packets, whom we are pleased to state, laid in not only an ample store of
provisions, but also of the best quality.

Wishing you every prosperity and happiness,

We are, sir,

Yours most respectfully,

JAMES CULLEN, Chairman of The Midships Department.

Captain EZRA HAMLYN, Chairman of the Fore Department.

Captain THOMAS BOWSY, Chairman of the After Department.


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