Cynthia Frazier


Outstanding, Preschool, Primary, Tracey Fern, Emily Arnold McCully, Clipper Ship, Flying Cloud, Eleanor Prentiss Creesy, Ship Navigator, Cape Horn, Gold Rush, Picture Book

Document Type

Book Review


Ellen Prentiss’s father was a trading ship captain in Massachusetts in the early 1800’s. Even though she was a girl, Captain Prentiss taught his daughter seamanship and how to navigate the seas using a sextant and chronometer. Ellen loved sailing and using her knowledge of the stars, moon, and sun to cross the waters. Later, Ellen, as navigator, and her husband, Perkins Creesy as captain, successfully sailed cargo ships in established shipping lanes. The Creesy’s then had the wonderful opportunity to sail an extreme clipper, called the Flying Cloud. Clipper ships were much different than other sailing vessels, they were sleek and lightweight and designed for speed. As thousands of people were headed to the gold fields of California, Ellen and Perkins hoped to cut travel time in half with the Flying Cloud. A journey over land or by sailing around Cape Horn in a traditional ship took many months. The Creesy’s goal was to deliver their important cargo and passengers to San Francisco in record time. This journey was fraught with trials and dangers. The story of the flying Cloud with her female navigator is both inspiring and noteworthy.