- Visit Of The Wreck -
Memories By "Fuertewolf" ...
In the first part of our report about the American Star, we mentioned him various times: Wolfgang Peter alias "Fuertewolf" who organized the "American Star Tour" for several years and lives on today on Lanzarote.
As reported, he was a passenger on "our" ship that was then named SS Australis (The "Australian Lady", as the onboard newspaper called her). The ship´s voyages were numbered and divided into northbound and southbound.
Wolfgang was a passenger in February/March 1970 on the ship´s 23. voyage southbound and, therefore, it is no surprise that he has many personal memories of the trip with this ship.
He has many recollections of the SS Australis and therefore of the American Star which fans turned into some kind of relics. If they could just have those in their own living room ...
We have possession of the pictures kindly provided by Wolfgang from Lanzarote since his website "American Star Tour" does not exist anymore showing many of his memories.
We take a look at the placemats, onboard newspapers, and the sales pamphlets of the SS Australis duty free shop, which can be enlarged by clicking on those so that you can read what was new onboard ...
We thank "Fuertewolf" for the look into his collection
that is probably worth more than just the sentimental value ...
A Visit Of "El Naufragio" ...
Regarding the American Star´s relics, you should not miss one trip: The one to Puerto del Rosario to the cafeteria "El Naufragio".
This establishment has obtained some fame thanks to the wreck: The majority of the interior of the cafeteria "El Naufragio" is originally from the shipwreck and is situated on the Avenida 1 de Mayo corner of Jesús y Maria (see city map below on the left).
There are many stories about the way these and other things were taken from the ship and who was the culprit (see also for example the mail from M. Weiers). We do not know if and how all these things-for instance the dealing with the ship´s insurance - but we are sure that this dark chapter around the wreck would make a long but interesting story if we only had it. But who knows what we will stumble upon in the matter of time ...
(Editor´s note, Mai ´06: If you want to know more about this restaurant founded by Ibrahim Quintana, you should have a look at our report about the NDR documentary of 1999: The Wreck of the AMERICA).
We park our Nissan where you can even find a spot in the evening. And we realize again how much Puerto del Rosario has changed since our first visit several decades ago but this is possibly another long story ...
The way to the El Naufragio is easy to be found and there are many empty tables in the semi dark restaurant.
The specialty "calamares a la plancha" once praised does not exist anymore on the menu. Instead, you can find several paellas and also some tasty mini-pizzas.
We order the latter and a good Tempranillo, which the bartender pours from the bottle. Interesting technique: The pizza is served on a wooden board together with a hammer like cutting tool that you use to cut mouth sized pieces (see picture on the right).
The walls of the restaurant are decorated with numerous pictures of the American Star, among them many taken in the first month of the wreck from 1994 and after. The interior indeed originated mostly from the ship - with the exception of the big picture from just run aground ship that now decorates the whole wall next to the TV in the restaurant (picture bottom right) ...
Portholes and windows of the ship can be found numerously in the restaurant. Matching holes were broken into the wall of the building in order to install those.
Also very decorative: The bar and the women´s and men´s room that are equipped with original pieces of the ship down to the door handle.
The restaurant manager does not have any problems with us taking pictures of the interior and therefore many flashes from our Canon are illuminating the restaurant - the later arriving guests are not being "flashed" anymore ...
When we return to Cotillo this evening, where we stay this trip as in previous years, we know one thing: There are many more stories about the American Star to be discovered ...
© 2006 J. de Haas, Photographs El Naufragio Explorer Magazin,
other photographs Wolfgang Peter ("Fuertewolf")
English Translation: Britta Schaa, Venice Florida
1. Appendix, April 2006: Even More Relics ...
And there are even more relics of the ship: As mentioned Thomas Tamme informed us about his findings at the Playa de Garcey - among others instructions for a life west from the times of the SS Australis (click on the picture below) as well as a "beached" toilet seat on which you can clearly see "Made in USA" (bottom right). Of course, we will report about further findings as soon as they are brought to our attention!
2. And 3. Appendix, still April 2006: A History Of A Postcard ...
Our new author Bill Lee providing us with several reports about "our" ship, for instance the history of the SS America drew our attention to the following: A German seller offered a postcard on eBay showing the ship in the New York harbor next to the leaving FRANCE.
Of course, we won that piece´s auction and the disappointment was tremendous in the first minutes after receiving the postcard: You could clearly read on the back side that the ship hidden on the right sight of the dock was not the AMERICA but the UNITED STATES. After we mailed this postcard to Bill, he explained everything to us. This (now the even more interesting card has clearly the wrong imprint: How experts of this ship recognize without a problem because of the size, masts, the number of visible lifeboats, etc. It is indeed the AMERICA! And this is even more remarkable: This picture is dated 1964. It is as the above history shows also the last year of the AMERICA before she turned into the AUSTRALIS. In summery, a very special postcard we had acquired.
The postcard writer Betty most likely did not realize that she sent the historical postcard - according to the postal stamp in the following year 1965 ...
One more reason to pass the above mentioned postcard with special collector´s value to Bill Lee. We already sent it to him in the meantime and we look forward to hopefully seeing him at this spot with his new piece in his collection!
Our postcard, it already arrived! We cannot imagine a better place for it than Bill Lee´s collection. He owns so many memorabilia of the ship unlike anybody else.
On the picture below on the left, you can see Bill with his new postcard and of course he has something to tell about his photographs. We are very thankful for this report!
I chose this corner of my little "museum" so that I could show you a few of my treasures.
The large framed lithograph to my right is circa 1940, and shows the AMERICA leaving her builder´s yard to be delivered to her owners.
Above it is a scaled replica of one of the AMERICA's name boards, carved out of teak wood salvaged from the wreck. I provided the approximate dimensions, based on the attached photo (see model of the AMERICA, click on the picture below on the right)
Steve Tacey (who sailed to Australia and back in 1974) used some of his precious supply of wood to make me this item. He is a wonderful woodworker and has done several items of this nature.
Just to the left of my head is a steward/stewardess call button that came off the ship in 1946 when she was being reconditioned. A neighbor/shipbuilder saved it from the scrap pile for me. I recently designed a display "stand" so that it could be mounted flush, and Steve was nice enough to make a stand for me, using two pieces of teak railing (glued together) also salvaged from the wreck site by him.
Further to my left is a full size replica of the SS AMERICA Library logo (given to me by NCL). Just below it is my small scale "Mercator" model of the ship, resting, appropriately enough, on a small plank of teak wood that was also provided to me by - who else? - Steve.
Below the model, and a little more to my left is my computer screen - positioned so that I am inspired by numerous things "AMERICA" when I write. There are many more AMERICA artifacts on a wall even further to my left.
Lastly, I am wearing a T-shirt with a reproduction of the AMERICA painting that I like the most. This is the same image that is at the top of the history write-up; I´m sure you will recognize it.
Again, thank you for the addition to my collection, and for the opportunity to create a history about the ship for the further education of your readers.
Regards - Bill
4. Appendix, May 2006: AMERICAN STAR "stuff" on ebay ...
These days you find a lot of things on ebay which were taken from the American Star in the year 1994 and later.
This stuff is still on the island of Fuerteventura or already somewhere around the world.
We asked Bill Lee what he thinks about that and we share his opinion completely:
... I looked at those websites, with some distaste. This guy also has similar pictures of AMERICAN STAR "stuff" on ebay - obscenely overpriced, by my standards.
Most of the "uncared-for...for-years" things taken from the ship are really only worth something as scrap metal, unless they have some irrefutable identification and can otherwise be documented.
The real treasures - the irreplacable artwork - would be nice, but I fear - by now - they are all hidden away, or ruined in the process of removal ... or by subsequent neglect.