In 1853 the "Flying Cloud" sailed 14,000 miles from NY to San Francisco in 89 days and 8 hours. The ship was built by Donald McKay and launched in 1851.
You can see a picture and some information about the Flying Cloud at Wikispaces
Another ship Donald McKay built was "The Great Republic." Below is an article from a Naval Journal published in 1854.
THE GREAT REPUBLIC.
This largest ship in the world, this wonderful piece of naval architecture, which has just made its appearance in our harbor, was designed, built, and is owned by Donald McKay, Esq., of Boston. The discovery of California gold, and the rush of emigrants to that land, and the consequent urgent demands for supplies, have called to existence fleets of clipper ships, eight of which, had been built by Mr. McKay, before he designed the Great Republic.
They were the Flying Cloud, Flying Fish, Sovereign of the Seas, Bald Eagle, Empress of the Sea, Staghound, Westward Ho, and Staffordshire. The Flying Cloud he built on his own account. She was 1,700 tons register; made the quickest passage from New York to San •Francisco on record, in 98 days, ran in 24 consecutive hours, 374 geographical miles. Not satisfied with this triumph, he determined to build a larger clipper that would outsail the Flying Cloud. He next designed the Sovereign of the Seas, a ship of 2,400 tons, " then the largest, longest and sharpest merchant ship in the world." She was so large, and the plan of her seemed so dubious and Utopian, that no merchant would invest in her. " Mr. McKay embarked all he was worth in her," turned merchant and freighted her himself She did out-sail the Flying Cloud.— Although her passage to San Francisco was longer, " she sailed in 24 consecutive hours, 430 geographical miles, 56 miles more than the greatest run of the Flying Cloud, and in ten consecutive days she ran 3,144 miles." " In eleven months her gross earnings amounted to $200,000," when he sold her on his own terms.
In these enterprises, " experience had shown, that the passage to California had been lengthened by ths tremendous westerly gales in the vicinity ofs Cape Horn, and that to combat them successfully, vessels of a still larger size and power were necessary.
He accordingly designed the Great Republic, a ship of 4,000 tons register, and full 6,000 tons storage capacity" ; has built her and will sail her on his own account.
" She is 325 feet long 53 feet wideand her whole depth is 39 feet." Shehas four decks, is 8 feet between decks, except between her spar and upper decks which is 7 feet. She has four masts, the aft one is called the spanker mast. From her keel to the main truck is 250 feet. Few of the thousands who have visited her have left with 'any adequate idea of her enormous size.
A house 25 feet front, 50 feet deepand four stories high is as large a tenement as often meets the eye, in this city; a block of 13 such houses is a longer hloc than is often met with, and yet the hull of this monster ship occupies more space than a whole block of such dwellings. A 300 ton ship used to be considered a large craft; yet this ship -will carry as much freight, and consequently displace as much water as a fleet of twenty such vessels.
Our forests could not furnish trees of sufficient size and length, to make her fore, or main, or mizen masts.— " They are built of hard pine, doweled and bolted together, and hooped over all with iron." Her foremast is 44 inches in diameter and 130 feet long, mainmast 44 inches, and 131 feet, mizen, 40 inches and 122 feet. Her main yard is 28 inches in diameter and 120 feet long, is spliced in the middle, being formed of two of the longest pine trees. There has been used in her construction,
Of hard pine 1,5QO,000 feet.
Of white oak, 2,056 tons.
Of iron, 336 1-2 tons.
Of copper, exclusive of sheathing, 56 tons.
Canvas in a suit of sails, 15,653 yirds.
Days' work on her hull 50,000. Her crew is to consist of 100 men and 40 boys.
Notwithstanding her great size, she is one of the most beautiful models afloat. Her Figure-head is the head and beak of the Eagle. Her stern is ornamented with a spread eagle measuring Thirty-six feet from tip to tip of its wings.
Under her spar deck, in the stern and richly ornamented, is the spacious ladies' cabin with three large state rooms on either side, forward of this, the main cabin and eight state rooms; still forward, stewards' rooms, officers' rooms, hospital, and rooms for the boys; a good arrangement to keep the boys from the forecastle and under the eye of the officers. She has also, we are happy to see, a fine spacious and airy forecastle, the men are to be lodged in hammocks, like a ship of war. She has three houses on the spar deck, in one of which is a steam engine of 15 horse power, to do the hard work of the ship, such as pumping, working the flre engine, hoisting topsails, taking in and discharging cargo. With it also is connected a distilery, not of ardent spirit* but of sea water into good fresh water ; no doubt she will be a temperance ship. The engine can be shipped into a huge long boat constructed as a propeller, to be used in calm latitudes for towing the ship. An admirable Yankee contrivance, truly, to help Jack out of the doldrums.— We suppose too it can be used as a lighter to load and unload in ports where there are no wharves.
In one of the houses is a library for the men containing over one thousand volumes of profitable books, and connected with it a teacher tor the boys.
In the construction and arrangement of this noble ship there is evidently an eye to the comfort and improvement of the men, which we are most happy to note and commend.— She is to be commanded by Capt. L. McKay, a brother, we believe, of thebuilder. We bespeak for her a good crew who shall look well to the interests and honor of the Great Republic.