Excerpts from "The Clipper Ship Era" Vol 1

by Clark Arthur Hamilton  A captain of several well known ships 

"The captains and officers of the California clippers were as a class of men of integrity, energy and skill, nearly all of them being of the best Pilgrim and Puritan stock of New England and trained to the sea from boyhood.  Many of them were the sons of merchants and professional men, well known and respected in the communities in which they lived.  Their ships carried large crews, besides being fitted with every appliance for saving labor:  fly-wheel pumps, gypsy winches, gun-metal roller bushes in the sheaves of the brace,...., "

"There was no allowance of food, as on British ships, on board the American clippers; a barrel of beef, pork, bread, or flour was supposed to last about so many days, according to the ships company;  a little more or less did not matter..."

"The forecastle on board the old type of vessels was in the forepeak, below the main deck, a damp, ill-ventilated hole, but in the California clippers it was in a large house on deck between the fore and main-mast,  divided for and aft amidships by a bulkhead, so that each watch had a separate forcastle,  well ventilated and with plenty of light.  There was nothing to prevent a crew from being comfortable enough; it depended entirely upon themselves.  Indeed, there were no ships afloat at that period where the crews were so well paid and cared for...",

"The time when these men really had to work, was on the sailing day of a California clipper.  A busy scene it was as they put the crew and their dunnage on board, one or two lots at a time accompanied by a boarding-house runner*, the sailormen being in various stages of exalted inebriation.  The helpless in body and mind are hauled over the side in bowlines and stowed away in their berths to regain the use of their limbs and senses.  These men have been drugged and robbed of there three months advance wages and most of their clothing.  In a few hours they will come to, and find themselves at sea on board of a ship whose name they never heard, with no idea to what part of the globe they are bound.  A receipt is given for each man by the mate, who considers himself fortunate if he can muster two thirds of his crew able to stand up and heave on a capstan bar or pull on a rope.  The probable condition of the crew is so well known and expected that a gang of longshoremen bring well-stocked  sea chests; the less thoughtful find moderate sized canvas bags quite large enough to hold their possessions; one mariner carries his outfit for the Cape Horn voyage tied up in a nice bandanna handkerchief,  the parting gift of a Cherry Street damsel --who keeps the change...." ,  "The mate is not hunting for trouble---all that he wants is for his men to do their work and show him enough respect so that it will not become his unpleasant duty to hammer them into shape...",  

"They are all pretty full of alcohol, but the sailor instinct is so strong in them that they do their work as well, some of them perhaps better, than if they were sober.  There is no romance about them or about any part of their lives; they are simply common, every-day sailors, and will never be anything else, unless they happen to encounter some inspired writer of fiction; then it is difficult to say what may become of them.  Some of them have much good in their natures, others are saturated with evil, and all need to be handled with tact and judgment, for too much severity, or on the other hand any want of firmness, may lead to trouble, which means the free use of knives, belaying pins and knuckle dusters...."

*Boarding houses were some of the principal places where the Shanghairs or "Crimps" did business.