In 1940, author John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts chartered the fishing vessel The Western Flyer for a cruise near Mexico.
The voyage was the basis for Steinbeck’s “The Log from the Sea of Cortez,” a nonfiction classic. Today, The Western Flyer sits on blocks, covered in dried mud, in Port Townsend, Washington.
But not for much longer.
John Gregg, a businessman from Southern California and a Steinbeck fan, is shipping the 76-foot wooden vessel to California to be restored.
“I read [Steinbeck’s] stories as a young guy and I always was inspired by that sort of thing,” said Gregg. “I identified with the adventure and science.”
The book details Steinbeck and Ricketts’ six-week voyage in the Gulf of California, which is also known as the Sea of Cortez. During the trip, the two men made many stops to collect marine specimens. Many of Steinbeck’s fictional characters were inspired by Ricketts.
The boat has been used for several different purposes in its lifetime, including fishing for sardines and tuna, a crab boat, and a research platform.
The Western Flyer sunk twice in Puget Sound in recent years.
Before Gregg purchased the vessel, the previous owner intended to cut the boat into pieces for display in a nautical-themed restaurant.