Thursday, October 31, 2013
Aboard Peking at South Street Seaport Museum
South Street Seaport Museum is still recovering from damage from Hurricane Sandy, but they were able to open up Peking for tours over several weekends in October. The Peking is one of the quintessential school field trip memories that most people of my vintage have of growing up in New York City. The ship has been closed for some time as the museum struggles to find funding to maintain her, so this was a special opportunity to share a part of my childhood with Mikro that I made sure to take advantage of. We had a wonderful guided tour of the open areas of the ship, and also got to learn about the tools and skills necessary for sailing her.
Peking is a 4 masted steel hulled bark built in 1911, at the end of the era of sail. She's approximately 400 feet long (including the bowsprit) and has masts that are 170 feet tall. She carried cargo, especially nitrates from Chile to Germany. She later served as a "floating reform school" in England, where at risk youth could learn the merchant marine trade.
Our tour started on the poop deck at the stern. This is where orders were issued from, and where the ship was steered from during extreme foul weather.
Next, we saw the Captain's saloon and the mates' quarters, on the well deck level.
Amidships were the binnacle (where the compass was housed), the helm (removed), and the charthouse. During normal conditions, this is where the ship was steered from.
From there we moved to the midships exhibit area, where the galley, crew quarters and provisions storage were. There are displays explaining what life was like aboard and a film of Peking going around Cape Horn in a storm.
Next we went to the forward well deck, where there were displays and demos. Mikro learned about how lines were spliced, how repairs were made to the sails, and the essential sailor's skill of tying knots. He has a pretty good grasp of trying the bowline. We also saw some of the amazing work of a master carver. Mikro loved the mermaids.
Mikro also built a model sloop and painted it.
I'm so glad he got to experience the Peking!