Rotting Boat To Become Luxury Literary Tourist Attraction

Owner set to move it to Salinas; captain's nephew opposes plan
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2014 9:54 AM CDT
Rotting Boat To Become Luxury Literary Tourist Attraction
In this Jan. 10, 2014 photo, the Western Flyer, a vessel made famous by author John Steinbeck, sits at a Port Townsend, Wash., boat yard.   (AP Photo/The Peninsula Daily News, Charlie Bermant)

For eight months, John Steinbeck's fishing boat has been moldering in Port Townsend, Washington. Now it's likely headed for a new home—but there's some controversy about where that will be, the New York Times reports. The Western Flyer, which Steinbeck chartered in 1940, set the stage for one of the author's books, The Log from the Sea of Cortez. At its current site it garners a handful of visitors, even though no effort has been made to display it. But now its owner plans to move it Steinbeck's birthplace in Salinas, California, where it will float in real water in the lobby of a boutique hotel, as a free exhibit.

But the nephew of the boat's former captain, who traveled with Steinbeck, says the Western Flyer belongs in Monterey, Calif.; that's where it operated during Steinbeck's life. Boat owner Gerry Kehoe "talks a good game, but he really doesn’t know what he’s doing," says Robert Enea, who tried to assemble a group to buy the boat for $45,000 back in 2010. Kehoe landed it instead, and says that's for the best, because Enea didn't have nearly enough money to restore it. He argues that Monterey is doing fine without the boat, whereas Salinas "doesn’t have a lot going for it, to be honest with you, but it is the birthplace of the great man." (More John Steinbeck stories.)

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