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Old January 5th 04, 08:49 PM
Paul Rands
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Default Was this Nonantum a Tall Ship?

I'm writing a history of how my Rands ancestors immigrated from Cape
Town (Cape of Good Hope) to the U.S.A. in 1868. I've included an
excerpt from the history about the voyage below. Here are my
questions for anyone knowledgeable about clipper ships:

1. What would have been the typical route (in general) for a sailing
ship to take in 1868 from Cape Town to New York City?

2. What distance, approximately is that route?

3. Is 61 days a fast time to go that distance in a sailing ship?

4. Based on the time to go the distance and the size of it's cargo,
would you guess that this Nonantum was a clipper?

5. What other assumptions can you make about the ship and the voyage
based on the few facts that I've included?

6. What erroneous assumptions/statements have I made?


Paul--a lubber near Portland, Oregon


....According to the comments column in the Mowbray Branch membership
records, the Rands left for the U.S. on March 16, 1868. In fact,
their ship left Cape Town the next day. Port of New York records show
that the Rands arrived there 61 days later on May 16, 1868 on the ship
Nonantum. In maritime terminology, "ship" typically refers to a
three-mast, square-rigged sailing vessel. Only the eight Rands and
one other person are listed as passengers—all in cabin—for this
voyage. The ship had sailed from Calcutta, India on January 20th and
stopped in Cape Town to leave ship's Captain Upton, who was ill. The
ship was not arranged for passengers—it arrived in New York with 1149
tons of cargo—and so it's possible that the Rands were able to take
advantage of an empty cabin made available by the sick captain's
departure from the ship. Another possibility is that a cabin was
vacated by someone coming from Calcutta to join the diamond rush just
starting—diamonds had been discovered a few months earlier in 1867.
The word Nonantum refers to a New England Indian tribe and the word
has been used to name a hill, a valley, a village, a resort, many New
England streets and at least two ocean-going sailing vessels. I've
found references to several ships in the 1800's with the name
Nonantum. Based on histories, the most likely seems to be a ship
built in Kennebunk, Maine in 1861, except that its cargo capacity is
listed as only 844 tons. As mentioned above, the Nonantum was on its
way from Calcutta when it stopped in Cape Town. Calcutta was British
India's most important city. It was the capitol of Bengal and located
on the coast of northeastern India, near the border with present day
Bangladesh (formerly eastern Bengal) and over towards Myanmar
(formerly Burma). Calcutta was an export center for the opium trade
but this cargo was typically forced upon the Chinese to pay for
British imports of tea and not sent in large quantities to other
destinations. It's unlikely that opium was an important part of the
official cargo on the Nonantum. Other typical cargos from Calcutta,
that could have been in the Nonantum's hold, were tea, jute, salt
petre, indigo, muslin, silk and spices....
We know little about the voyage—it took 61 days, two seaman died
during the Atlantic crossing , there was only one other passenger
besides the eight of the Rands, and they were lodged in a cabin or
cabins .

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