Another boat from Ships of China by Valentin A. Sokoloff, cited in my previous post:
Life boats were stationed at dangerous rapids & it is recorded that in 1899 they were instrumental in saving 1473 lives from wrecked junks. Salvaging of cargo was expressly forbidden. The boat shown is about 20 feet long & 7 feet wide. In 1901 there were 44 of these boats. Later larger boats were introduced. Inscription on stern flag reads: "The Society for Rescuing Drowning People, Lower Section, Lungmenhao, South Bank, Chungking."
It's intriguing to picture this boat in use in was must have been (given the numbers of rescues performed) really dangerous whitewater, with men standing, facing forward, at the two rowing oars, and another at the enormous steering oar. I presume the steeing oar had a propulsive function as well.