Doesn’t that look like the Staten Island shore out beyond this color foto of Utrecht?  And the towline stretches taut with 3100 gross tons of steel, a hull that wants to sprint its 16 knots and some:


the bark Peking, late summer 1975, approaching the Narrows for the first time ever, as its previous route took it around Cape Horn.


Let’s walk around the foto a bit.  Invisible on this foto, some of the missing spars lie on deck.


The 1975 paint scheme differs from from that on the 1929-30 foto, and from the current one.  The assist tug appears to be a McAllister.


And on its 17-day passage from the UK, a “riding crew” rode Peking, there to stand watch and perform any as-needed functions excluding anything involving navigation, as Peking had non-functional rudder and no means of propulsion.  Several people are visible on deck below.  Lots of questions come to mind:  would a “dead ship” in general and Peking specifically have a generator on board?  What navigation lights are required?  What damage control would they have anticipated?  How different was radio communications tug-to-Peking 34 years ago?  Did watches include bilge and hold checks?  Who was this crew and what specialties did they have?  Did they take any fotos, and if so, where might those fotos be?


Peking masts are all steel;  topgallants were shortened.


What tales the crew of this tow must have told!  I’d love to learn more of the details of Peking‘s most recent passage, recent although 34 years ago.

Thanks to John for sending a link to the story (and many pics)  of Bear, which after a long life and many roles, sank while under tow from Halifax to Philadelphia for conversion to restaurant on the Delaware, a role currently played by Moshulu.  If you’ve seen Peking, you must visit Moshulu–and eat there to see the tweendecks.  Moshulu launched seven years before Peking also for the nitrate trade but from Scotland.

I’m curious:  any readers who know the ports of Chile today . . . is there recollection of the time a century back when these large commercial sail vessels arrived and departed with raw materials from the the Atacama Desert?  I’d love to hear.

Many thanks to Charlie Deroko for images and information.