The Iselin family archive, Basel
Boarding the Maryland
The Maryland left New York harbour on September 5th, 1805. Isaak Iselin was on board as the ship's supercargo for his firm Le Roy, Bayard & McEvers. This means that he was in charge of the cargo as well as of sales and purchases during the voyage. The aim of the voyage was to participate in the expanding global shipping trade between America and China (through the port of Guangzhou [Canton]). By selling and buying manufactured goods, cloth and luxury items, high profit margins were obtainable.
The route of the Maryland encompassed many parts of the world: from New York to the Cape Verde and Falkland Islands; around Cape Horn to Chile, Peru, Mexico and as far north as Baja California (foreign ships officially being forbidden in the Spanish Realm); traversing the Pacific via Hawaiʻi, Guam and the Philippines; reaching Guangzhou (Canton); and finally returning to New York via the Cape of Good Hope. Returning to New York in April 1808, the journey had lasted for about 2.5 years, far longer than Iselin had expected at its beginning. This was due to weather conditions as well as to several unforeseeable incidents, for example a broken mast which had to be repaired in Hawaiʻi.