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What was it like to cruise across the bay on Peking? I’m grateful to South Street Seaport for inviting me on as riding crew so that I could offer an answer.



The crewman on this tug (Elizabeth McAllister) certainly understood how momentous Peking‘s jaunt across the harbor was. To him and anyone else who took fotos from land or air or other vessels, I’d love see them. Maybe Flickr? I’ll post more on Peking 5 and maybe even 6.


I’d wager it’s only once a decade or less that anyone sees the Bayonne Bridge through shrouds like these, By the way, the Bayonne would have to raise for Peking‘s masts to pass under through.



Her sheer size is apparent by the size of the two crew way forward to port. Imagine shouting a command to them on a calm day . . . a stormy day under sail. Some stats on Peking from Irv Johnson’s film: number of crew in 1929–70. Number of sails she used–32. Anyone can name them? Weight of each of the 3 lower sails–1 ton dry; significantly more when wet. Distance round trip between Germany and Chile–22, 000 miles and time elapsed over half year.



What thrilled me most was that Peking was alive again. I felt her pulse steady and heard some deep breaths.



I could lie and say the Staten Island ferry company ran all their boats to accommodate the throngs wanting to see Peking alive and on the move. It’s not a lie that anyone lucky enough to steam past Peking on Tuesday won’t forget it soon. Helicopters, airships, UFOs even crowded the sky just out of view in these shots.  The Statue turned her head to watch us pass and then smiled ever so briefly.



The bell in lower right side of the foto chimed with all the church bells in New York as . . .


Peking‘s points her bowsprit (or jibboom?) up the East River following assist tug Elizabeth McAllisterPeking‘s masts would beg the East River bridges to raise their roadbeds too.

What was it like? Okay . . . I’ll stop the exaggeration, but I heard Peking singing. Woo woo! She was singing sailing songs in German, Spanish, British, American, even Dutch ones that she learned from tug Utrecht who towed her over her in 1975. And she smiled.

Photos, WVD.

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January 2008