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

Details: 160 pages    6 x 9
Cloth: $24.95   ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3437-9   
Pubdate: 4/4/2010
Series: New Perspectives on Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology
Review(s): 6 available

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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.


Industrializing American Shipbuilding: The Transformation of Ship Design and Construction, 1820-1920

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