Flying Cloud Details


                      These web pages record some details of the Flying Cloud derived from the sources listed in the document Flying Cloud source material.  Here I attempt to describe the Flying Cloud as she was at the start of her first voyage.

                      I make references to drawings where useful but, I do not include parts of most of those drawings where there are copyright issues. 

In most cases where there is a conflict between the information in various sources, I assume that the Duncan McLean's April 25, 1851 Boston Daily Atlas article is the definitive source, since it is contemporary to the launch and the author was a friend of Donald McKay.   That friendship would likely have given McLean access to the most accurate information.  But, as Bruce and Gardner Lane note in an article in the American Neptune, that there may have been reasons to not publish entirely accurate information in a way that a competing ship builder might have been able to make use of it.  Thus, some of the information in the McLean article may have been purposefully inaccurate.[i]  Still the McLean article may be the best single source so, unless noted, the details and dimensions of the ship itself, masts, yards, gaffs etc. are from that article.

The best source for information about the Flying Cloud’s scantlings (framing, deck planks, etc.) is a notebook created by Henry Hall, dated 1883, from information he received from Mary McKay (Donald McKay’s second wife) and others.  The original notebook is in the Penobscot Marine Museum.  The museum agreed to let me post a copy of it here.  The notebook covers many ships build by Donald McKay and by others in addition to the Flying Cloud. I have extracted the Flying Cloud material from the notebook and posted it here.


Anchor Chain



Capstan Bars

Capstan Platforms










Hull Shape

Images of the Flying Cloud


Main Cabin

Main Spenser


Mast Platforms

Passengers & Crew

Port Holes


Rigging Resources


Ships Boats

Spare Masts and Spars

Steering Gear

Studding Sails, Yards & Spars


Water Casks & Tanks




[i] Bruce M. Lane and C. Gardner Lane, New Information on Ships Built by Donald McKay, article in American Neptune, April 1982, pages 118-137. The results of research into the accuracy of the ship plans, including those of the Flying Cloud, in the Clark collection at MIT and of the information about the Flying Cloud and other McKay ships in Henry Halls’s book and notebooks.