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Boat made famous by John Steinbeck gets facelift

It is a piece of literary history that has been called both worthless and priceless. The Western Flyer, a boat popularized in John Steinbeck’s “Log from the Sea of Cortez” has its own story to tell. The latest chapter is being written in Port Townsend, Wash., right now.

The Western Flyer was built in Tacoma in 1937. In 1940, Steinbeck chartered the boat with a biologist friend and a few others for a six-week trip to Mexico. That trip inspired the book.

After the Mexico expedition, the 77-foot seiner fished the West Coast for decades, eventually ending up in Anacortes where it sank twice. The owner planned to have it cut up and the parts turned into a hotel restaurant, but Andy Gregg and his brother John loved the story so much they stepped in and saved the ship.

“We don't want to see it parked at a dock with a penny machine people buy as a token,” Andy Greg told KING 5 News. “We have no interest in that.”

The hulking beast of a boat has now been stripped down to its most basic elements and is in the midst of an estimated $2 million renovation.