the Haul Out of the Peking
The Peking is a steel-hulled four-masted barque whose cargo consisted mainly of nitrate and wheat. With her ports of call at opposite sides of Cape Horn, her crew of 35 to 40 worked 4 hrs on, 4 hrs off, through huge storms, dead doldrums, moving 5,300 tons of cargo, on 8,000 ton of ship across 11,000 miles. They would arrive at ports, sometimes with no tug nor tow in sight, left to themselves to dock the great ship under the powers of wind, currents, and muscle.
Hundreds have crewed on her. Many work on her today. And, there was a glimmer of hope for sailors to crew aboard in the not distant future…
Last year, on the 7th of january, on a monday morning, the Peking made her way through NYHarbor. For this short trip to a dry dock in Staten Island, the preparations had begun months before.
Her 3 ton bow anchor had to be secured. She used to have two bow anchors and one lighter sheet anchor, however, now, only one remains.
Bitts had to be tested to be sure they were secure. The fo’c'slehead bitts proved sound. The welldeck moorning bitts had to be tested to 3 tons: two chain falls were wrapped between them and tightened with a twist or two of the wild cat until the dynamometer gauged the strain at 7.5 tons, which was held for 15 minutes. The bitts passed the stress test.
Her braces were triced up to be out of the way of the tugs that would tow alongside.
A generator was brought into the wet lab under the poop deck for the days the ship would be away.
Huh! A ship that had no electricity, that ran with its large crew around the world many times powered only by wind and muscle, now at shore, has electricity for pumping bubbles for a few denizens plucked from the waters below her. (One famed tenant of the wet lab is last year’s 16th Annual Great North River Tugboat Race mascot winner, Oscar, a harmless, horrid, horny, spindley-legged crab, who beat a few dogs and a ferret.)
The Peking’s two gangways were removed and placed atop dunnage.
The McAllister Responder moved to her port to tie on.
At 0848, before the eyes of incredulous dog walkers and taiqi dancers, before anyone looking out their office windows or driving by on the FDR, the Peking cast off.
Responder drew her out into the slacking East River; high tide was at 0717H, she may have still been flooding at the top.
Accompanied by her neighbors, the W.O.Decker, the Pioneer, and an assist tug McAllister Elizabeth, the Peking moved stately south, into New York Upper Harbor, leaving an aching hole by the Wavertree.
(to be continued…)