Sinking of the Wander Bird

No, not us, but our namesake, the beautiful sailing schooner Wanderbird, also known as Elbe No 5, was struck by the 465-ft container carrier Astrosprinter on the Elbe river near Hamburg in Germany last June in 2019.

We often check in on the old wooden boat, to see if she’s had any work or a change of ownership. Hamburg Maritime Foundation, the most recent owners, had recently completed a $1.7million refit at a Danish yard and she was enjoying work as a tour boat when the unfortunate incident occurred.

We had always dreamt of sailing our little sister to meet the noble schooner and while she rests just underwater, chances grow slim as she’s consigned to the briney depths.

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Wander Bird’s last moments afloat

As for us, we continue to make preparations during quarantine. After more than two months, the boat is back in the water while we wrap up the repairs and improvements.

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Provisioning and Repairs

Wanderbird was launched in 2004 and was built to travel the world. For some time she sat dormant, mired in various legal issues and controversy. Ships, especially those with the customization like she has, don’t like to sit idle.

The previous captain had kept her well, though their missions was more sedate than ideal. When we moved her south it was a test of her resolve in some way. The boat began to show signs of her age, first with an autopilot failure, a string of other minor issues and then a burst ice maker hose that drained 1,700 gallons of water into the river.

Thankfully, her new Captain is a natural engineer, perhaps to his chagrin. As we provision and prepare to head to the Bahamas on Friday he’s replaced the galley faucet with an updated, more suitable Koehler unit, re-engineered the ice maker cabinet for better air flow, remounted the other ice maker and many other small projects.

The propane tanks required refilling, having not been touched in five years, but we expect to use more volume than the previous owners who only employed the French ring on the Wolf range once, to warm some plates. Having tested the grill with friends on Sunday and confirmed that our documentation is sufficiently in order, we’ll be off on Friday for our first time in the Bahamas.