- Visit Of The Wreck -

Appendices: The Final Countdown ... (2)

The final round ...

    © Photograph: Patrick Radner


Fuerteventura, January 07 - The "Rock" or: The "Stern" Is Breaking Away...

The year 2007 began anything but well: No, in this case, we do not talk about the German tax law that will take even more than ever from the citizens - no, this year, the remainders of the American Star did not have a good start.

It already started in December 2006: Many readers sent us current photographs regarding the wreck's conditions and it was unmistakable: Stephan Robmann's prognosis was fulfilled faster than everybody would have liked. As Stephan wrote: The remaining hull will be "hollowed out" by the waves.

And this is happening at an alarming pace: Large parts of the "stern" are already broken off; among them is the lower part of the ladder that was often used to get onto the ship. Nobody will be able to enter the wreck this way ever again as Patrick Radner's photograph shows ...

The "stern" breaks away

In the meantime, the broken off parts formed a "rock" rising next to the wreck's rear part. One more thing that would threaten all swimmers and divers who dared to come closer. But who knows how long you will be able to see this? The photographs by Friedrich Foeste providing us with current information from December 2006 show this very well.

The "rock" ...

New hazards for swimmers


1. Appendix, still January 2007: The "Second Face" And Other Discoveries ...

We like to take a break for a moment while updating the story of the famous wreck's destruction: Many readers were inspired by Jens Schroeder's report about the "monk" near the American Star's anchor. We also received reports regarding other discoveries: One of those could be found at the Playa de Garcey for years and was pointed out by Mario Staffeld whose photograph of the wreck was already published last November. He wrote the following about his special picture:

"What caught our eyes was a face constantly staring at the American Star. It has a long nose, pointy lips, and is `ancient. I am talking about a stone formation directly on the beach at which the American Star moors. Therefore, the American Star is not alone ..."

The "rocky" face: It follows everything happening around the American Star...

And indeed, this "second face" that we find at this spot - the stone formation on the beach - has been looking at the wreck for almost exactly 13 years and has been seeing many things during this time: Not only thousands of tourists for whom this place became a place of pilgrimage but also various stages of the wreck's destruction. As well, it saw the running aground and the breaking apart during the first two days in 1994.

Sandra Zwicks's two pictures are the same age which she sent us in the last couple of days and which are from the first period of the American Star at the Playa de Garcey - not only the open hatch at the stern and the fire traces show that the raiding was already happening (Locals living on board during the loot, making fire to cook, starting a few fires, drinking at the same time ...).

The photographs of the stern still holding on to its secrets taken at that time are especially impressive.

1994: The ship ran aground ... ... and the stern broke away within the first two days ...

But back to the presence: There is another discovery to talk about. During his last swimming excursion to the wreck, Dirk Evers detected that "Australis" started to reappear under the writing of "American Star"; however, he found more. He knew about a secret ladder visible during low tide and leading into the wreck directly from underneath. Did somebody install the ladder there in order to get onto the wreck?

Now, we could finally discover the ladder on a photograph: Reader Urias von Meyenburg sent us a couple of pictures from end of December 2006 where we could identify the mysterious part far up at the bow for the first time due to the extraordinary resolution of the photographs ...

At the bow area ... ... there is a mysterious ladder ... ... that was obviously installed under the crew cabins ...

Now, we do not want to encourage anybody to try to get on board. The ladder seems to lead directly into the wreck and as it looks like, the ladder has always been here at this spot; however, we cannot completely confirm this. We marked the approximate area in an old map where the ladder leads upstairs. It is a ladder close to the crew cabins as we can see (click on the photographs above)?

The "second face" has apparently seen many, many mysterious things but how many can we solve ..? Well, next month we will be there again and we have made many plans. But more next time …


2nd Appendix, February 2007: She Is Tipping Over Faster ...After only about six weeks: The listing is increasing considerably ...

Now, everything happens pretty fast: There are just about six weeks between our animated shots on the right (First picture: Friedrich Foeste's photograph of December 19, 2006 and last picture: Jens Schroer's photograph of February 3, 2007).

During this time, the angle of wreck is considerably increased. One of the remaining two masts on the bow already touches the water with its base ...

After a couple of weeks, Jens Schroer, discoverer of the "monk" at the bow, was here again to visit "his lady" and he sent us shocking photographs from the beginning of February. We are afraid that we have to hurry with our trip to Fuerteventura ...

Hello Juergen,

I was on Fuerteventura until yesterday and I shot a series of photographs. This time, finally with my new EOS 400D with tele lens. I think these photographs are more impressive than the video still shots from November ... It does not really look good for our Grand Old Lady but you will see for yourself when you will be there. I hope my mail will reach you in time in order to be current. I am sitting down to work on the photographs and shake a leg like the American Star did once ...

Warm regards, Fuerte-Stroh

Only small leftovers ... ... and also the lower decks are destroyed ... The king post on the portside is already under water ...

3. To 5. Appendix, March 2007: Back Again And "Mission Accomplished" ...

And we are back from our trip "Fuerte 07" and our many visits to the Playa De Garcey - via air and on the ground. This time, we have sensational photographs from the wreck with us as if we were on board ...

Before the start ... ... to the wreck: above the American Star ...

And by the way, we had to fulfill a "mission" on behalf of overseas - more about that in our report and in our short film!


We almost forgot to mention: Of all things, during our visit another significant piece fell off the remaining hull: The noticeably white paneling of the former cargo winch area (see photograph left below) was still visible on the deck during our flight on February 24, 2007. Four days later, during our last visit, that part was already gone (right below).

This is certainly not our fault - we did not fly that low ...

Remaining paneling ... ... are swept away before our very eyes ...

6. To 7. Appendix April 2007: Over And Done ..!

We are still under shock after we saw photographs by Peer Wetterling who had made those on March 25, 2007: Only a few days after our last visit the wreck nearly totally collapsed ...!

Unbelievable but true ...

Nobody expected what shocked observers see now: Faster than all prognoses, the nearly complete collapse towards portside followed. As we already know thanks to Birgit Schimanski's photographs dated March 19, 2007 and especially due to Juergen Wrusch's video (will be part of our film documentary), the reason for the final collapse was a severe storm around March 20, 2007.

Four weeks ago, during our flight, we already found out that the hull was only shadow of itself, but that it would be so soon, we did not think that this was possible ...

Now, it is happening: The American Star is indeed going into her final round - in a short period of time it will be all over ...

Over and done ... ... only remainders are visible ...

8. Appendix, Still April 2007: After The Storm ...

After the aforementioned storm around March 20 and its horrible outcome for the wreck, there are still many visitors speechless considering the new sight. We received a mail regarding that matter from Barbara Dueckers including photographs dated April 9, 2007:

Hello Everybody!

Yesterday, for the fourth and probably the last time we visited the American Star. I looked at your website again and saw the new photographs. December 2005, I was there for the first time (after she already fell to the side) but after yesterday's sight of American Star I was flabbergasted and also saddened ...

Remainders ... ... after the storm ... ... how much is left is a matter of perspective ...

I also watched your video documentary - a really informative video! The photographs made from the helicopter are sensational! Unfortunately, that I did not have the idea ...

She is wasting away, the American Star. How long will she withstand the ocean - weeks, months ..???

Kind regards from LTI Esquinzo Beach Hotel
Barbara Dueckers

Thank you very much for the mail and the photographs, dear Barbara, and also for the compliment. Regarding our film: That was only an appetizer, the "real" one will follow and will be pretty fascinating. We promise as much.


9. Appendix, still April 2007: The "Autopsy" Continues ...

The end is near ...Bill Lee continued the "Autopsy" with a heavy heart. More than ever, it seems that he would wish that the last remnants disappear rather today than tomorrow - the current photographs cause too much pain to those who were once involved with this famous ship.

His sequel also includes one of the photographs taken by Juergen Wrusch during the height of the storm that ultimately broke the wreck's spine. Then it was not broken into three pieces yet but on the verge of doing so ...


10. Appendix, June 07: Better Times

From the disillusioned American Star’s present, let’s return to better times: Wolfram Dallwitz from Australia saw Dirk Evers’s picture showing him on board of the American Star in 2003. The sofa - on which Dirk was sitting that day - reminded Wolfram of his trip of a lifetime on the SS Australis that had also been a love story ...

Dirk in the Mezzanine (2003) ... ... and Marion at the same place in the year 1970 ...

His story is called "Ships in the Night" and with that we are sending our warmest regards to Australia ..!


Appendix 11 and 12, July 2007: Sorrow ...

While the remainders of the American Star stay unchanged as we have shown them last time, many readers asked us whether they are still there, we were shocked by a message from North Germany: Our friend Dirk Evers who had accompanied us on the island during our "mission" died in a motorcycle accident on July 18, 2007 ...

The American Star was his passion ... Farewell, Dirk!

We loose a real friend of this ship, of this magazine, and especially of this website where he left more than just a trace by his pictures and experiences and he could really claim to have been on, at, and above the American Star.

A page for Dirk as obituary: Memories ...

We are in mourning for our friend!


Appendix 13, August 2007: Silence Before The (Next) Storm ...

Dirk saw the latest condition of "his" ship that has not changed much since. The ship's rail on the front broken off part is more than just torn up; however, all pictures received from our readers in the meantime indicate that this is most likely the silence before the (next) storm surrounding the wreck currently ...

His view is not getting better ...

Oliver Heinrich providing us with current photographs of the ship for the past three years was not idle in 2007. He sent us photographs from his last visit on the island including a picture of the little gnome (photograph above), which we also noticed during our visits at the Playa de Garcey. This belongs next to the "stone face" (see first appendix) to the two "guards" of the wreck and also his view is not the greatest these days. At the front part of the broken off part more pieces keep falling off as Oliver's other photograph shows (photograph below on the left) ...

Slowly but surely the damage is going on ... Steamboat Bill publishes an article about the wreck  ...

You can also find pictures known to us in the famous Steamboat Bill - a magazine published quarterly by the Steamship Historical Society of America. Publisher Jack Shaum from Maryland wrote to us in order to publish two of our photographs by Juergen Wrusch in his magazine. We are looking forward to this report in Steamboad Bill (picture above on the right)!


Appendix 14, 15, and 16, November 2007: It Is Finally Here - Our Video!

Tribute to an Old Girl ... We were often asked since our announcement a few months ago: When will your film about the American Star finally debut?

Now, the video is finally done and there was already a "world premier" during the authors meeting of the Explorer Magazin beginning of October: "Tribute to an Old Girl" is the name of the thirty minute video containing some scenes of our "mission" in February of this year and probably showing the wreck as a ship for the last time before she will completely fall apart.

More in regards to our new DVD - available now - in the report 


"Now, it is over - the story about the proud SS America ..." These words are heard at the end of our remembrance film.

And she is; even though the last kingpost is desperately trying to stay above the water while the other two broken remainders keep moving against each other. Jens Schroeer wrote to us once again and sent photographs dated November 5, 2007:

Broken remainders keep moving against each other ... The last kingpost is desperately trying to stay above the water ...

... The top of the bow seems to touch the water surface and also the anchor is still above the water. Maybe only during low tide. In any case, I could get pretty close due to the low water level. During high waves, the broken parts moved closely to the rhythm of the waves. I find it fascinating that the mast is still holding on to the hull considering the slanted position. However, the winter storms have not arrived yet ...

And also the photograph from Ivonne Albers taken during calm waters a few days later shows that it is really almost over:

Now, it is over - the story about the proud SS America ...

... Tuesday we have to return to Germany and we will never see the American Star again - really sad. But thanks to your website, we can always take a trip to the ship - keep on going ...


Appendix 17, December 2007: The Last Kingpost Vanished ...

A really sad photograph dated November 22, 2007 that Peter Schmolke sent us: Now, it is gone, the wreck's last kingpost and only a puny remainder of the bow looks out of the water (see An "Autopsy" by Sea). Will we find the bay empty for the first time next February ..?

The wreck's last kingpost is gone ...


© 2007 Explorer Magazin
English Translation: Britta Schaa, Venice Florida