This Is How John Steinbeck’s Vessel Is Being Salvaged

by Owen James Burke

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Above: The fishing trawler from John Steinbeck’s Log from the Sea of Cortez lies on the hard in Port Townsend, Washington in a sorry state. (Photo: New York Times/Matthew Ryan Williams)

You might wonder how anyone could have let her go for so long, but this is not unlike what happened to Hemingway’s Pilar.

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(Photo: New Street Nautical Audio)

The Western Flyer is the boat which Steinbeck commissioned for a six-week 4,000-mile ecological research trip in 1940, which was well ahead of its time and resulted in his book, The Log from the Sea of Cortez.

A California businessman has recently purchased her, and plans to move her down to Salinas, California, the place where Steinbeck was born. There was some previous interest in moving her to Monterey, but that town, says owner Gerry Kehoe, has enough going for it, and is far too stuffy. Once installed, Kehoe promises that boarding Western Flyer will be free.

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Above: Western Flyer in her better days (Photo: New Street Nautical Audio)

Kehoe plans to make her the centerpiece of the lobby of a boutique hotel — with water, a dock and all. But first, the 76-foot long vessel will be cut into three pieces and shipped down the coast to California, where he says she’ll be reassembled and restored.

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(Photo: New Street Nautical Audio)

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