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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Around Cape Horn

Capt. Irving Johnson's voyage around Cape Horn in 1929


Good ol' Frank at Long Beach lent me the DVD "Around Cape Horn" which documents Captain Irving Johnson's voyage around Cape Horn in 1929 aboard the "Peking", a steel-hulled four-masted barque launched in Hamburg in 1911.

What a ship! What a captain! What a crew! There were no safety regulations! When she returned to Hamburg, two bunks were empty.

"Ghosts of Cape Horn" - of Cape Horn and the ships and the men that rounded it

She left Hamburg for her maiden voyage to Valparaiso in May 1911. After the outbreak of World War I she was interned at Valparaiso and remained in Chile for the duration of the war. Awarded to the Kingdom of Italy as war reparation, she was sold back to her original owners, the Laeisz brothers, in January 1923. She remained in the nitrate trade until traffic through the Panama Canal proved quicker and more economical.

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

"Arethusa II" was retired in 1974 and sold to Jack Aron as "Peking", for the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City, where she remained for the next four decades. However, the Seaport NYC did not see "Peking" as part of its long-term operational plans, and was thinking of sending the vessel to the scrap yard. An offer in 2012 to return the ship to Hamburg, where she was originally built, as a gift from the city of New York, was contingent upon raising an endowment in Germany to ensure the preservation of the vessel.

"Peking" moored at the South Street Seaport in New York City.

In November 2015 the 'Stiftung Hamburg Maritim' purchased the ship for US$100 to become part of the German Port Museum (Deutsches Hafenmuseum) at Schuppen 52 in Hamburg, for which €120 million of Federal funds would be provided. She was taken to Caddell Dry Dock, Staten Island, on September 7, 2016, to spend the winter. On July 17, 2017, she was docked, and two days later, she was transported, at a cost of some €1 million, on the deck of the semi-submersible heavy-lift ship Combi Dock III across the Atlantic, arriving on July 30, 2017 at Brunsbüttel.

The "Peking" was transported by the heavy-lift ship "Combi Lift III".

Arriving in Germany for restoration on July 30, 2017.

On August 2, 2017, she was transferred to Peters Werft located at Wewelsfleth for a three-year refurbishment at a cost of €38 million. The restoration included a full review of her rigging, double-floor steel plates, dismounting and remounting of all masts, docking in dry-dock, renewal of the steel structure, removal of the cement that filled the lower three-and-a-half metres (11 ft) of the hull, painting, wood work and overall refurbishment. The ship twice spent about two years in dry dock. She was refloated on September 7, 2018 and teak was reinstalled on her deck. The ship was transferred on September 7, 2020 to the German Port Museum.

After laying in New York for serveral years without any maintance, the ship was transported to Hamburg for a full restoration and to be displayed in the German Port Museum in Hamburg. This video shows the float out of the sailing ship "Peking" on the Elbe river and the arrival in Hamburg on August 2, 2017. She was transported by the Heavy Lift Ship "Combi Dock III" on a 10-day trip from New York to Germany. After the journey over the Atlantic she looked more rusty and abandoned than ever.

It helps to understand German but as they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words"

Great DVD, Frank, and thanks for lending it to me. If you want to read more about those great ships, read Eric Newby's "The Last Grain Race".

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