John Steinbeck’s Beloved Western Flyer Is Finally Getting the Restoration She Deserves

by Owen James Burke


Photo: Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News.

There’s been skepticism surrounding the proposed renovations of the Western Flyer, the twice-or-more-capsized 76 foot, 78 year old purse-seiner aboard which John Steinbeck, Ed Ricketts and co. famously conducted their 1940 Sea of Cortez ecological expedition which inspired Steinbeck’s classic, The Log From the Sea of Cortez.

But, a recent article published by the Peninsula Daily News out of Port Townsend, Washington reports that the $2 million dollar restoration she was said to be undergoing earlier this spring is in fact underway. This comes after years of delinquency, rot, and vaguely interested investors with wild ideas, not unlike the limbo Ernest Hemingway’s Pilar endured before receiving proper care.


Above: The Western Flyer takes to the sea at Western Boat Builders in Tacoma, March 4, 1937. Photo: The Petrich Families Collection via Seattle Weekly.

Although you can now see her, don’t expect to be able to set foot aboard the legendary vessel anytime soon. The crew of about 15 who are working on the renovations full-time are still expecting 2 and a half years to go. Once finished, the boat’s new proprietors, brothers John and Andy Gregg, hope to have her back afloat in Monterey Harbor, where she spent much of her career as a commercial fishing boat.

In the meantime, a wooden boat show will be held at the Port Townsend Shipwright’s Co-op from September 11-13 at 919 Haines Place, and visitors will be invited to attend demonstrations and engage in Q+A.

Read more at the Peninsula Daily News, –OJB

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