The Long Perilous Journey of an Old Fishing Boat

The Long Perilous Journey of an Old Fishing Boat

A story about the life, near death and resurrection of a 77-foot fishing boat…from Key Peninsula News.

“In 1983, a man stepped out of the crowd during a Cannery Row Foundation street festival organized by Michael Hemp and asked him, “How’d you like to get your hands on the Western Flyer?” The man was Bob Enea, a nephew of Tony Berry and Sparky Enea, another of the original crew who also appear in Steinbeck’s book.

The boat fished up and down the West Coast and Alaska for decades. The name had been changed to Gemini, but Enea tracked it down through its original call sign (WB 4404), which stays with the vessel for life.

“He knew where it was,” Hemp said. “We spent 30 years trying to get it and never could. Nobody came up with a check when it was in good condition, and it wound up there under the bridges in Anacortes from around ’86 on, rotting.”

The vessel was eventually purchased by a Salinas, California developer who planned to truck it back down the coast and turn it into a motif inside one of his buildings. But the boat never moved.

“It sunk twice on his watch and NOAA or somebody finally told him to fix it or they were going to bulldoze it on the levy there like they do all the other old boats,” Hemp said.

The Western Flyer was towed to Port Townsend in 2013 where it sat neglected in a boat yard for two years.

“In the meantime, John Gregg had been keeping an eye on it and making offers for maybe a year or two, and finally got it,” … read more to see what happens next and to learn about the Steinbeck connection.

Learn more at Wikipedia.

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