Our heavenly majorera coastline, which everyday hosts visitors lying on its beaches to enjoy the sun, surfing its waves or making boat trips, is also full of history. Here you are an article about the American Star, a great luxurious vessel that ran aground on the beach of Garcey, municipality of Pájara, in 1994, and that at that time meant a great tourist attraction in our island.
August 31st, 1939. The first lady in the USA, Eleanor Roosevelt, was naming one of the most luxurious vessels ever: The American Star.
She was a transatlantic meant for passengers, holding up 1048 people, her construction took over two years and it had a cost of 18 million dollars.
But this huge vessel’s inaugural journey (48m shorter than the Titanic) had to be put off, due to the WW II, as the vessel was militarized and reformed to transport troops to Europe, Pacific and Indian Oceans. She came to hold up 8000 soldiers, and even her name was changed: USS West Point.
After the war, In December 1946, this vessel’s inaugural trip really took place. The vessel was restored, thus recovering her initial luxury. She was also recovered by her original owners: The Northamerican Company United States Lines.
The vessel crossed the Atlantic several times, until planes gained ground little by little. Finally, in 1964, the vessel was retired from this service, and it was bought by a Greek shipping company that modernized her, made her bigger (2300 passengers), and re-named her as SS. Australis, for emigrants and tourists’ transport. Years passed by and the ship had different owners and names, and from the year 77 onwards her maintenance was left aside for a period of 16 years. The ship was retired and her machines turned unusable.
In 1993, her last period starts, when a Thai shipowner buys her for 2 million dollars in order to build a luxurious floating hotel in Bangkok. She was re-named again as American Star.
In January 15th 1994, with dismantled propellers, propelled by the Ucranian tug boat Neftegaz 67, in the journey towards ‘El Puerto de la Luz’ (Gran Canaria), where a stop would be made before leaving towards Thailand, The American Star was lashed by a storm that made it impossible to recover the vessel’s control. Two days later the crew was rescued and the ship was left adrift, though the intention was to recover her once the storm died down.
Three days later, the American Star ran aground on the beach of Garcey, belonging to ‘La Pájara’, Fuerteventura’s Southwest coast. This would be her last destination, becoming a real attraction to foreigners and locals that came to watch the grandeur of one of the most luxurious vessels of her time, stranded a few meters from the shore.
While owners and insurances were arguing, the vessel was left at the mercy of strong currents and the swell, and she split in two. A bit later the stern sank in the ocean. The bow remained on the beach, but nowadays only her tip can be seen at low tide, fighting not to disappear for the rest of history.
Nowadays many people in this islands keep historical remains from the American Star. A pub in the capital was completely decorated with this ship’s items; The two pianos belonging to The American Star are believed to be in ‘Antigua’. The swivel chair that belonged to the First officer is now property of one of the craftsmen in this area.
Lots of stories like these are heard throughout the island, even the vessel’s wood has been used, among other people, by a craftsman, Kai, that makes high quality guitars with wood taken from the American Star.
From Fuertecharter we try not just to seduce you with our boat trips, but also to show you part of the history that this little big paradise holds up.