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The Peking is a steel-hulled four-masted barque — the sister ship to the Passatmarker. A so-called Flying P-Liner of the Germanmarker company F. Laeisz, it was one of the last generation of windjammers used in the nitrate trade and wheat trade around the often treacherous Cape Hornmarker.

Eking out meager existence on routes difficult to serve by the steam ships which required vast amounts of coal to fire their hungry boilers, these tall ships and the sailors sailing them were the last of their breed. Sailed "in the traditional way with few labor saving devices or safety features", her sailors were a hard lot, working four hours on and four hours off 24 hours a day for the entire length of the voyage, sometime for more than a hundred days in a row.

Made famous by the sail training pioneer Irving Johnson, his footage filmed on board during a passage around Cape Horn in 1929 shocked experienced Cape Horn veterans and landsmen alike at the extreme conditions Peking experienced.

She was in Valparaisomarker at the outbreak of World War I, and was awarded to Italy as war reparations. She was sold back to the original owners, the Laeisz brothers in 1923, and continued in the nitrate trade until traffic through the Panama Canalmarker proved quicker and more economical.

In 1932, she was sold for £6,250 to Shaftesbury Homes. She was first towed to Greenhithemarker, renamed Arethusa II and moored alongside the existing Arethusa I. In July 1933, she was moved to her new permanent mooring off Upnormarker on the River Medway,where she worked as a children's home and training school. She was officially "opened" by HRH Prince George on 25 July 1933. During World War II she served in the Royal Navy as HMS Pekin.

She was retired in 1975 and sold to Jack Aron, for the South Street Seaportmarker Museum, New York Citymarker in the United Statesmarker, where she is still moored.

See also


  • Irving Johnson; Round the Horn in a Square Rigger (Milton Bradley, 1932) (reprinted as The Peking Battles Cape Horn (Sea History Press, 1977 ISBN 0-930248-02-3)
  • Irving Johnson (film); Around Cape Horn (Mystic Seaport, 1985) (from original 16 mm footage shot by Irving Johnson, 1929)

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