The woman navigator of the Flying Cloud.
In 1851, the clipper ship Flying Cloud raced from New York to San Francisco in just 89 days, 21 hours.
During the California Gold Rush, fortunes were made or lost in sleek clipper ships. The route often took more than a hundred days. But in 1851, the Flying Cloud carried $50,000 worth of cargo from New York to San Francisco around the tip of South America in record-breaking time under the command of Josiah Perkins Creesy Jr. and his wife and navigator Eleanor Creesy. Two years later, they broke their own record by 13 hours, a record that still stands.
Mrs. Creesy knew how to use a chronometer and a sextant. She also understood the mathematics of navigation her seafaring father taught her as a girl in Massachusetts.
New Science Aids Navigation
Eleanor Creesy was among the first to use the route around Patagonia recommended in Lt. Matthew Maury’s charts of winds and currents, published from 1847 until 1861, and his “Sailing Directions.” Maury, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory, founded the science of oceanography.