We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Cruise of the Dashing Wave

Rounding Cape Horn in 1860

Philip Hichborn, edited by William H. Thiesen

Publication Year: 2010

Cruise of the Dashing Wave recounts a harrowing 1860 clipper ship passage from Boston to San Francisco by way of Cape Horn, as recorded by Philip Hichborn, ship's carpenter, in his journal.

On board the Dashing Wave, even the disagreeable food was a blessing as it distracted the crew from the oppressive cruelty of the elements. The weather and heavy seas of Cape Horn pushed the sailors to their physical limits and often punctuated their watches with moments of despair, amazement, and fear.

Hichborn would later rise to become a major figure in the U.S. Navy, but on this, his first voyage, he was still unfamiliar with life aboard ship. As ship's carpenter, he was not obligated to stand watch at night, giving him unique opportunities to observe and make notes on an extraordinary cruise that weathered devastating gales, ice, and snow; the death of a crew member; and a near mutiny.

Most accounts of seafaring are written by captains, mates, or members of the forecastle crew, but this unusually candid account captures life aboard a nineteenth-century tall ship from the point of view of a landsman. As such, it lays bare the social and professional interactions of a team of strangers stressed to the point of rebellion and murder--revealing that the rigid traditional hierarchy of a ship could be challenged by a man of skill and personality.

Published by: University Press of Florida

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (149.2 KB)

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (50.0 KB)
pp. xi-xiii

Water is unquestionably the most important natural feature on earth. By volume the world’s oceans compose 99 percent of the planet’s living space; in fact, the surface of the Pacific Ocean alone is larger than that of the total land bodies. Water is as vital to life as air. Indeed, to test whether the...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (337.5 KB)
pp. 1-16

I discovered the journal “Cruise of the Dashing Wave” while researching at the National Archives for a book I was writing on the history of American shipbuilding. Written by ship’s carpenter Philip Hichborn, this unique personal journal enthralled me. Each page revealed the true...

read more

Cruise of the Dashing Wave

pdf iconDownload PDF (673.4 KB)
pp. 17-91

Toward afternoon, the ship was about off Minot’s Ledge, and then I went to work putting parcelling and battens around the edge of the booby-hatch, which took some time on account of every thing being new. The captain came to me where I was working and said, “Well, carpenter...

read more

Appendix A. Dashing Wave Sail Chart

pdf iconDownload PDF (73.1 KB)
pp. 93-94

No authentic sail plan for Dashing Wave is known to exist. The sail plan shown is typical of three-masted ships of the period and reflects the masting and sparring shown in photographs of Dashing Wave. Dashing Wave carried studding sails, but they cannot be shown in a profile view...

read more

Appendix B. Dashing Wave Bill of Fare

pdf iconDownload PDF (57.3 KB)
pp. 95-96

Philip Hichborn provided this bill of fare and “Remarks” at the end of the original manuscript. See Glossary of Nautical and Slang Terms for definitions of food items...

read more

Appendix C. Remarks, about Ship Dashing Wave

pdf iconDownload PDF (45.4 KB)
pp. 97-98

I left Boston in this ship April 4th. She is an A1 clipper ship about 5 years old, 1200 tons register, commanded this voyage by the following officers and complement of men: D. R. Le Craw [sic], captain; Thomas Mayo Carter, 1st mate; William Perkins Shaw of Plimouth, 2nd mate...

read more

Appendix D. Philip Hichborn’s Life after 1860

pdf iconDownload PDF (150.1 KB)
pp. 99-103

Hichborn’s later life and career attest to his technical expertise, professionalism, and leadership ability. Not long after his arrival in San Francisco, he renewed his association with his mentor, naval constructor Melvin Simmons, and began working at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard...

read more

Appendix E. Clipper Ship Dashing Wave after 1860

pdf iconDownload PDF (93.6 KB)
pp. 105-107

After Hichborn’s 1860 passage, Dashing Wave had a very long and eventful career. The clipper sailed primarily between domestic locations, but she also called at international ports such as Melbourne, Sydney, Manila, Calcutta, and Hong Kong...

read more

Appendix F. Captain Lancaster’s Daughter, Irene Johnson, Discusses Dashing Wave

pdf iconDownload PDF (147.1 KB)
pp. 109-119

The original transcript of this interview, conducted by Karl Kortum and Austin Keegan in October 1962, is held by the J. Porter Shaw Library of the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park. Omissions of irrelevant discussion are indicated in square brackets...

Glossary of Nautical and Slang Terms

pdf iconDownload PDF (100.6 KB)
pp. 121-134

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (45.6 KB)
pp. 135-136

Most projects of this kind require the assistance of numerous individuals and institutions. Museums and libraries that have assisted with this project include the Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington Navy Yard (Chuck Haberlein, Ed Finney, Rob Handshew); Marblehead...


pdf iconDownload PDF (52.6 KB)
pp. 137-139


pdf iconDownload PDF (105.5 KB)
pp. 141-148

E-ISBN-13: 9780813045382
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813034379
Print-ISBN-10: 081303437X

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 22 b&w photos, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2010

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Hichborn, Philip, 1839-1910 -- Travel -- Chile -- Horn, Cape.
  • Hichborn, Philip, 1839-1910 -- Diaries.
  • Sailors -- Chile -- Horn, Cape, Region -- Biography.
  • Explorers -- Chile -- Horn, Cape, Region -- History.
  • Horn, Cape (Chile) -- Discovery and exploration.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access