Cutty sark- the world’s sole surviving tea clipper

We took a water taxi down the Thames to Greenwich today, to see the Cutty Sark, the Royal Naval College, and the Royal Observatory. Another cloudy day but that meant manageable crowds. 

The river boat came right to the pier at the backside of our hotel, it was there within two minutes of our arrival and off we went, the local, not the express, to Greenwich. We stopped about five times along the way, picking up and dropping off passengers. The majority of the people aboard were heading to Greenwich but not a mob as we were told happens on a sunny weekend. 

Crossing the river to drop people off at the Eye, one thing we didn’t opt to do because it was never a clear day.

Coming up alongside the Belfast.

Under the London Bridge.

Once we got past the Canary Wharf* stop, we sped up a bit but mostly we were the slow boat to China. No hurry for us as we had all day. *We noticed that all the banks seems to have brand new HQ in this district. HSBC, Citi, Credit Suisse.  

As you step off the ferry at the Greenwich pier, straight ahead is a beautiful Visitor Center where we bought tickets for the Cutty Sark and for the Observatory. The rest of the buildings are free to enter. 

We did the Cutty Sark first, gorgeous as you might imagine. Built on the Clyde in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line, she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest. She only spent a few years on the tea trade before sailing to Australia for wool.

This post is photo heavy just because she’s that beautiful. What hearty men who sailed her, one crew member as young as fourteen. A few gone overboard. A few abandoned ship in Australia. 


Copper sided…

The ship was fitted for the boxes carrying the tea. In the floor, Dan the ceiling- carrying tea that was quite valuable.

This deck was strictly for cargo, mostly wool in her latter years. The crew was all on the top deck.

The top deck was where all the action happened and where the crew slept, where the galley was.

The ship was raised in her permanent home so that visitors can see her from underneath, this photo below.

Even a landlubber like me can appreciate the sea-worthiness and beauty of the ship, the purpose she served and what life was likely about aboard. 

Better them than me! 😬

5 thoughts on “Cutty sark- the world’s sole surviving tea clipper

  1. The clipper ship era was all too brief for those magnificent vessels. The US had the Flying Cloud but the Cutty Sark can be seen today. For better or worse the China trade was an enormous source of prosperity in the Boston area.
    The rigging photos are super.
    Part of the fun of being a tourist is visiting tourist sites. It’s sad when residents don’t bother to explore what’s on their doorsteps. I’m not talking about London specifically.
    Any chance you’ll go to the British Museum? I like to check they still have all their marbles.

      1. You have plenty of art back home but no horse guards or clipper ships. Your time in London was well spent.

  2. About 40 years ago while in London on business, I visited Greenwich to tour the observatory and Cutty Sark. I don’t recall the ship’s exhibits to be anywhere as grand as your photos show. Thanks for the tour!

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