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White Wings Vol I. Fifty Years Of Sail In The New Zealand Trade, 1850 TO 1900


In 1860 Auckland Harbour was graced by the presence of one of the most famous and finest modelled sailing ships that ever sailed the seas. This was the Red Jacket, a large full-rigged ship of over 2000 tons, or 1597 tons by the new measurement, sent out to Melbourne and Auckland by the White Star Company. This line, not to be outdone by rivals, followed the example of the Black Ball Company, and in 1854 chartered three American ships—the Chariot of Fame, Blue Jacket and Red
Red Jacket Surrounded By Ice.

Red Jacket Surrounded By Ice.

Jacket. The last two were extreme clippers. the Red Jacket, the most famous of this trio, was built by George Thomas, at Rockland, Maine, in 1853-4, and was owned in Boston. Her dimensions were:—Length, 260ft; breadth, 44ft; and depth, 26ft.

On her maiden voyage the Red Jacket sailed from New York for Liverpool on February 19, 1854, commanded by Captain Asa Eldridge, and made the passage in 13½ days from Sandy Hook to the Rock Light, Liverpool. During the entire run the wind was strong from the S.E. and W.S.W., with either rain or snow. The first seven days the Red Jacket averaged only 182 miles per 24 hours, but during the last six days she made 219, 413, 374, 343, 300 and 371 miles, a fraction over an average of 336 miles in 24 hours.

On her first appearance at Liverpool the Red Jacket attracted much attention as being an extremely handsome ship. One of the papers, reporting her arrival, stated: "She is one of the finest models that we have hitherto had the pleasure to behold." For a figurehead she carried a full length representation of the Indian chief after whom she was named. On this occasion she raced home with the celebrated Lightning, which sailed from Boston a day before the Red Jacket. Both ships arrived at their destination on the same day.