Meet Your Hosts
Aboard our small ship you can rest assured that you will be in the safe and capable hands of two highly experienced mariners. Rick and Karen have logged more than 100,000 miles of time at sea aboard their own vessels in waters ranging from Atlantic crossings, to the Arctic, to the equator. We are truly living our dreams and invite you to join us as we cruise to remarkable places aboard our vessel, our home and our pride and joy... the WANDERBIRD.
Rick has been on or around boats his entire life. Over the past three decades the sailor's life has found Rick fishing year-round on the Grand Banks between Gloucester and Newfoundland. Rick fished for Bob Brown (of ‘Perfect Storm’ fame) and in the offshore lobster industry for many years as a young man. After leaving the fisheries, he made a career of sailing traditional schooners on oceans between Maine, and the West Indies. Capt. Rick also owned and operated the 96’ traditional pilot schooner Timberwind for twelve years. Timberwind had no engine on board so he relied solely on the wind, weather and tide to sail the rugged Maine coast. Rick does all of the repair and engine maintenance with mechanical expertise gained from decades as captain aboard off shore fishing vessels. Rick enjoys company in Wanderbird’s wheel house where he is most at home. With Rick's love of seafaring, capabilities as a captain, and his jovial nature, you will come to feel like old friends or rather ‘shipmates’ after a day aboard.
Karen Miles is also a licensed ship captain, from a Maine coast fishing family. She holds a U.S. 200 on licence and is a capable hand in all areas of seamanship. She enjoys being the ship’s night skipper, mate, chief cook, welder, carpenter, or photographer all equally as much. She has spent the last 15 years on the water aboard vessels ranging from schooners to square riggers to fishing vessels, and is very proud to have worked along side her father as a lobster fisherman. She has formal training in art and commercial design, but embraces a strong ‘can-do’ spirit that comes from growing up on the Maine coast. Karen did the mechanical drawings for the conversion of Wanderbird from rough fishing vessel to a classic little ship with fine wood interiors, and she did a good bit of woodwork aboard the ship. She spends most winters working as a fine furniture maker or restoration carpenter, as well as an artist. She invites you to come aboard and photograph amazing wildlife along side her. You will really love her care and attention to detail for your comfort.
Pitsik and Paolo, our Labradoran husky and Culebran 'sato', are super friendly seafarers and sail with us on every cruise!
Our heroes are Irving and Exy Johnson who carried
passengers on round the world voyages for many years. Irving &
Exy met while sailing onboard a pilot schooner named Wanderbird.
In honor of their spirit, we have christened our former fishing
Rick & Karen met while sailing Penobscot Bay on the Maine Coast, each working aboard different vessels. Rick says: "She came by my boat one day, almost 15 years ago... walked right by me and sat down with my loyal (and now 16 year old), black lab "Pilot". I thought Karen had come to meet me, but I was wrong. I was able to divert her attention from Pilot, and the rest is history! Karen, Pilot and I have sailed over 100,000 miles together and we all still love each day together... and all of our adventures!"
In 2002, we purchased Wanderbird as a fishing vessel in Europe, sailed her across the Atlantic Ocean to Maine and later on to Nova Scotia where we live. We selected Wanderbird for her hull design, her steel thickness and quality, and for her fine and efficient slow revolution engine. We gut her to bare steel, leaving only the engine and basic systems in place. Over the course of one very intense winter with lots of talented hands, Wanderbird was refit.
We have drawn from each of our own personal experiences, and worked together to create the Wanderbird for adventuring with guests in both safety and comfort. Wanderbird has the capability to go anywhere in the world, and we sail her from the equator to the Arctic each season!
Our old friend & shipmate Pilot crossed the bar last fall at the age of eighteen. She was a really fine seafarring black Labrador Retriever & we will never forget her. Fair Winds, Pilot!
Our newest crew members:
Paulo was adopted during the winter of 2010 as we sailed the Caribbean. He was a "street dog" in Puerto Rico & really appreciates his good new home aboard Wanderbird.
Pitsik (pronounced Bitsik) was given to us as a little round husky pup by our wonderful friends, the Merkeratsuk family from Northern Labrador. She is a real sled dog from an Inuit community. She is super friendly & very beautiful.
Captain Rick's old friend Junior the macaw sails with us in the Caribbean and Maine.
WANDERBIRD functions as a training vessel for aspiring mariners and takes on up to 4 crewmembers per season- some staying with us for several years. All must go through an application process and are well trained in shipboard safety procedures and daily ship operations. Positions include: Deckhand, Ship's Cook, Engineer. Many of our young people go on to careers on the sea, others take their seafaring experience into other areas of life, and we are delighted to keep in touch and follow their later progress- they are an important part of the life of the WANDERBIRD and we couldn't do it without them!