Sea Witch

Clipper Ship


History of the Sea Witch

The famous clipper ship, Sea Witch, was built by Smith & Dimon in their yards at the foot of Fourth Street, New York City in the year 1846. Her plans were drawn by J. W. Griffiths for her owners Howland and Aspinwall, merchants and ship operators of New York. Griffiths was the first marine architect to employ testing models and other scientific principles in ship designing and his Sea Witch design was a drastic innovation in line and construction.

The Sea Witch was launched on December 8, 1846, and soon became famous for her record runs to and from China. There is no doubt that the Sea Witch was the fastest vessel afloat at the time of her launching. Authorities differ in deciding which was the first clipper ship, but some experts give the Sea Witch the distinction of being the first true clipper.

She was small, overall length 192' with 43' beam and 908 tons, compared to the 2000 ton clippers which were built in later years. In spite of her comparatively smaller spars and sails she established records which have never been beaten by ships under sail. It has often been said that her lines were never improved upon in clippers which folowed but their lines were merely enlargements and variations of the famous Sea Witch design.

Captain Robert Waterman commanded the Sea Witch on most of her record breaking runs. He was famous for his shrewd and skillful piloting which pushed his ship to new and almost unbelievable records. From the day of her launching until the untimely wreck on a ledge off the coast of Cuba in 1856, the Sea Witch consistently established new records. Her two fastest runs from Canton, China to New York stand this day as all time records for sailing vessels. She was famous for fast runs to California too, being the first ship to sail from New York to San Francisco, 'round the horn, in less than one hundred days.

Our Model

The Sea Witch is a miniature of the original ship which has been built from scaled-down plans based on the original design. The hull has dull black topsides and antiqued copper-green bottom which simulate the corrosive action of the salt water on the copper bottom. The deck houses are white with blue tops and other fittings include detailed hatches, ship boats, water casks and other fine deck details. The base is mahogany with brass finished nameplates on each side of the name block.

Model Measurements

Length overall

18 1/2"



Width of main yard

5 1/4"

How to Order

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