The news on Sky two days ago gave a lot of coverage to the official opening of the restored Cutty Sark by the Queen. After a £50m restoration lasting six years (interrupted by the famous fire), the clipper opened again to the public on 26 April. This made me think that it must surely have visited Funchal at some point, but no end of “Googling” would turn up anything positive (complicated by lots of references to the Tall Ships race visiting Funchal and of course a whisky by the same name). However, interestingly, it clearly has had strong Portuguese connections in the past:
The ” Cutty Sark was destined for the tea trade, then an intensely competitive race across the globe from China to London, with a substantial bonus to the ship which arrived with the first tea of the year. Her first round trip voyage under captain George Moodie began 16 February 1870 from London with a cargo of wine, spirits and beer bound for Shanghai. The return journey with 1450 tons of tea from Shanghai began 25 June, arriving 13 October in London via the Cape of Good Hope. The ship completed eight round trip annual journeys, but the Suez Canal had opened to shipping in 1869 just as Cutty Sark was being launched. In the end, of course, clippers lost out to steamships, which could use the shorter route through the Canal and deliver goods more reliably, if not quite so quickly, which proved to be better business.
SAILING UNDER THE PORTUGUESE FLAG 1895 – 1922:
Eventually steamships began to dominate the wool trade too and it ceased to be profitable for a sailing ship. In 1895 Jock Willis sold Cutty Sark to the Portuguese firm Ferreira for £2,100 and she was renamed Ferreira after the firm. Her crews referred to her as Pequena Camisola ("little shirt", a straight translation of the Scots "cutty sark").
The ship traded various cargoes between Portugal, Rio, New Orleans, Mozambique, Angola, and Britain. In May 1916 she was dismasted off the Cape of Good Hope because of the rolling of the ship in bad weather and had to be towed into Table Bay off Cape Town. The war meant that it was impossible to obtain suitable materials to replace the masts so she was re-rigged over 18 months to a barquentine sail arrangement.
In 1922 Ferreira was the last clipper operating anywhere in the world. Caught in a storm in the English channel she put into Falmouth harbour where she was spotted by retired windjammer captain Wilfred Dowman, of Trevissome House, Flushing, Cornwall, who was then operating the training ship Lady of Avenel. The ship returned to Lisbon, where she was sold to new owners and renamed Maria do Amparo. However, Dowman persevered in his determination to buy the ship, which he did for £3,750 and she was returned to Falmouth harbour.