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Harvard men have been the nuclei of the schooner "Wander Bird's" crews for the last seven years. This June, the sturdy old pilot boat will once again set sail from Gloucester and point her deep fore-foot toward Spain.
But this summer, Warwick M. Tompkins, Skipper of the schooner, intends to materialize an ambition which he has cherished over since he first tied a bowline, and follow the old clipper ship track to San Francisco by way of Cape Horn. Details of the proposed Horn passage were spun last evening by the Skipper aboard his ship in the lower Charles River Basin.
"The summer cruise will take us to the Azores, Madeira, Tenerife, Cadiz and Tangier", he began. "At Tangier, most of my summer crew will leave the ship to return to college. Then, with five hands besides the cook, the bos'n and myself, we will start for San Francisco by way of Rio, the Horn and Valparaiso. The voyage should occupy about four and one-half months, and will quite possibly be the last westward passage around Cape Horn under sail."
"Wander Bird" returned to Boston the day before Christmas having weathered the phenomenally heavy storms which ravaged shipping in the North Sea and the English Channel in late September and October. "We may, probably will, see far bigger seas off the Horn than we did then", the Skipper prophesied when asked if he did not consider this voyage hazardous, "but unless I was convinced that we'll have a far easier time with Cape Stiff than we did between Stockholm and Ushand last Fall, I'd not be going.
"It's not the big Horn graybeards that hurt a solid little ship, but the stinking steep, toppling walls of water a hundred-mile breeze pushes up in a shallow puddle like the North Sea or Channel."
Last summer his ship established an Atlantic sailing record of 16 days 21 hours from Gloucester to Pentland Firth. This is the fastest time on record for a ship of less than 100 feet over-all.
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