In this unusual composition, the artist shows two full-riggers hove-to, almost certainly in the busy sea lanes of the North Atlantic, with the American vessel rendering some kind of assistance to the British merchantman of the ship Casilda which has requested it in the internationally recognised manner by inverting her stern ensign, i.e. flying it upside down. Perhaps she has a crew member in need of a doctor or has fouled her drinking water; whatever the reason, she does not appear to be in a sinking condition necessitating the rescue of her entire crew but seems simply to be accepting the help offered by a passing ship.
The clipper ship Caravan was built by Hall's at Bath, Maine, in 1855. Registered at 1,362 tons, she measured 195 feet in length with a 39 foot beam, and was one of fifteen ships of 1,000 tons or over launched that year from the various Bath yards. Usually known as "half" or "part clippers", these Bath ships lacked the fine sharp lines of the so-called "extreme clippers" but nevertheless had a reputation .. their own for capacity, economy, comfort and seaworthiness.