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What is a Clipper Ship and what makes it special?

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What is a Clipper ship?

The Word to “Clip” comes from the meaning to run or swiftly fly. 17th Century English poet Dryden used the word to describe how fast the flight of a Falcon. It was a term that also described fast horses and then sailing ships. The Americans seem to be the first to have used the term for their sailing ships in the late 18th Century. Clip over the waves rather than slow through them. The British Oxford dictionary references this term being used by the 1830s.

Built for speed, must use sail day and night. Good during the fair and foul weather. It must be sharp-lined and tall with a large spread of sail.

Alan Villiers, author defines clippers as

Quick sailing ships developed further from schooner shape ships. They had 3 masts and a square rig. Narrow for their length, carry limited cargo. built in the UK and USA although other countries started production too. They sailed to British colonies all over the world. The boom years for the clipper ships doing the tea trade was from 1843 until around 1869 when the Suez Canal Opened.

China Tea Trade of the 1870s demanded a lot from a ship. Cutty Sark fitted this purpose to a T. 100 Million pounds of tea during the start of this era was being imported. A premium bonus was being paid for those able to deliver the first seasons batch to London.

Why do Ships have Roman Numerals painted on the hull

The Roman Numerals are draft marks, they appear on either side of the Bow, and Stern (back) of the Ship. The marks show the distance from the bottom of the ship (keel) to the level of the waterline.  This shows how submerged into the water the ship is. The numbers are a set size and distance from each other so they can take a measurement.

There are 6 inches to one FOOT in imperial measures. The number or Numerals are 6 inches in height and exactly 6 inches apart. Enabling the Feet and inches to be measured.

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