Cruise of the Dashing Wave:
Rounding Cape Horn in 1860

Philip Hichborn, edited by William H. Thiesen

Foreword by James C. Bradford and Gene Allen Smith, Series Editors
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"Readers who long for the thrill of sailing around the Horn won't be disappointed. The description of the death of the sailor John Warriner alone makes it worth the read. Hichborn's account is truly a gem."--Douglas Jerolimov, University of Virginia

Cruise of the Dashing Wave recounts a harrowing 1860 clipper ship passage from Boston to San Francisco by way of Cape Horn, as recorded by Philip Hichborn, ship's carpenter, in his journal.

On board the Dashing Wave, even the disagreeable food was a blessing as it distracted the crew from the oppressive cruelty of the elements. The weather and heavy seas of Cape Horn pushed the sailors to their physical limits and often punctuated their watches with moments of despair, amazement, and fear.

Hichborn would later rise to become a major figure in the U.S. Navy, but on this, his first voyage, he was still unfamiliar with life aboard ship. As ship's carpenter, he was not obligated to stand watch at night, giving him unique opportunities to observe and make notes on an extraordinary cruise that weathered devastating gales, ice, and snow; the death of a crew member; and a near mutiny.

Most accounts of seafaring are written by captains, mates, or members of the forecastle crew, but this unusually candid account captures life aboard a nineteenth-century tall ship from the point of view of a landsman. As such, it lays bare the social and professional interactions of a team of strangers stressed to the point of rebellion and murder--revealing that the rigid traditional hierarchy of a ship could be challenged by a man of skill and personality.

Philip Hichborn began his career as a ship's carpenter on Dashing Wave and rose through the ranks to become an admiral and the chief constructor of the U.S. Navy. William Thiesen is the Atlantic area historian for the U.S. Coast Guard, former curator and assistant director of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, and author of Industrializing American Shipbuilding.

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"Deserves special recognition since it shows shipboard life through a (then) ordinary man's eyes, rather than those of a ship's captain or mate. Highly recommended." The Midwest Book Review

"The delight of Philip Hichborn's excellent journal is his natural skill as a writer and his astuteness as an observer." The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord

"Hichborn's detailed observations of shipboard life and the interactions between shipmates, and his ability to convey in words the weather, the food, the scene above deck and below, make his journal something Thiesen just had to share. A relatively short and enjoyable read for anyone: experienced sailors and armchair sailors alike, and even perhaps some landlubbers looking for a good read." Sea History No. 133

Cruise of the 'Dashing Wave' is an absorbing and evocative narrative. Thiesen's brief presentation of the ship's history, the lives of Hichborn and Captain Lecraw, and other important contextual material round out the narrative substantially. This is an important addition to the literature of life at sea under sail. International Journal of Maritime History, Vol. XXII, no. 2

"Although probably little different from other contemporary voyages, this four and a half month one was packed with interest. Hichborn's record is replete with remarkable insight from one so young." Work Boat World

Adds a new dimension to our understanding of life on a nineteenth century clipper. The human dimensions are as compelling as the challenges posed by the natural world, and Hichborn and Thiesen have done a great job in making these available to 21-century readers.-- International Journal of Naval History

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