"The past actually happened but history is only what someone wrote down." A. Whitney Brown.

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San Juan Archipelago, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 650, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

23 November 2016


Crew member Barbara Leighton
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

Before the Schooner WANDERBIRD sailed into the hearts of hardworking Capt. Harold Somers and his wife Anna Lise, in California, for one of the most amazing restoration programs in the U.S., the good ship was sailing other oceans.
      Tompkins sailed for adventure and found it on the stormy 5,000-mile voyage from Spain to Florida in the little 76-ft schooner WANDERBIRD. 

     "Lief Erickson in modern dress made port [Miami Beach] the other day. His craft was the schooner WANDERBIRD, his crew totalled six men and two gals and his log told of a 5,000-mile cruise across the stormy Atlantic from Vigo, Spain to these tropical moorings.
      Half a century ago the WANDERBIRD, then the WANDERVOGEL, bucked the gales of the North Sea. She's just as sturdy and staunch today. 'No bigger than the Viking ships, but a sweeter sailing vessel and much more seaworthy,' said Capt. Warwick M. Tompkins.
      Tompkins and his crew, that included his wife, Gwen, and Miss Barbara Leighton of New Haven, CN, had no auxiliary motor on which to call in heavy weather, or calms. The WANDERBIRD is one of the few remaining deep-sea schooners that depends only on sail. 
      The women of the schooner's crew stood watch and watch with the men at the wheel, helping set canvas and going aloft when it was necessary to shorten sail for a heavy blow. The other members of the crew were Alfred W. Pain of Cambridge, Mass,  first officer; Alfred Lorens of Hamburg, Germany, second officer; two sailors and a cook.
      The WANDERVOGEL was one of a fleet of pilot boats built for the German government fifty years ago for service in the North Sea. She is framed and planked of solid oak throughout and copper-sheathed. Despite her staunch build, the schooner made 1,000 miles in six days from Vigo to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
'We logged ten knots under shortened canvas,' said Cap'n Tompkins. 'We had gales in the Bay of Biscay, the wind reaching a velocity of eighty-three miles an hour. But from there on it was better. We left Cowes, England, 20 September for Vigo and made port here in 48 days.'
      Tompkins whose home is in Berkeley, CA, attended the U of CA. His deep sea experiences date from war days when he held the battleship ARIZONA on her course as a quartermaster. He purchased the WANDERBIRD in Hamburg last July and with a crew of English and Dutch school boys made a 6-week cruise of the British Isles last summer. 
       His latest venture on the WANDERBIRD is not his first conquest of the Atlantic in a small sailing vessel. He was navigator of the 17-ton PRIMROSE IV* on a crossing of the North Atlantic by way of Iceland an exploit that won him the Blue Water medal in 1927."
* The Log entry of PRIMROSE IV can be seen here.
Above text from the Journal Gazette, Mattoon, IL. 1930.
aboard as navigator on PRIMROSE IV.
Well known sailor and one-time owner of
Original photo from the archives of S.P.H.S.©

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