Prior to reading Captain Curran’s Western Flyer Story, it was an interesting centerpiece of literary history but nowhere on my mind. After reading the story on Captain Curran’s website, I rushed out and bought my own copy of John Steinbeck’s book highlighting the Western Flyer, “The Log of the Sea of Cortez”. The book I bought was part of a compilation set called: “John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath and Other Writings 1936-1941: The Grapes of Wrath, The Harvest Gypsies, The Long Valley, The Log from the Sea of Cortez” and the same book is available on Amazon or you can buy it individually in paper or electronic copy. After reading Captain Curran’s story about the boat’s extensive restoration, I was hungry for more history on the boat itself and John Steinbeck’s travels on it. So I just googled “Western Flyer” and lots of info popped up, apparently this is a much loved and historical fishing boat that’s been saved from the brink of destruction, now getting overhauled in an attempt to save as much of the original boat as possible. You can check it out online at the link above.
I am fascinated and drawn to this story because of my own experiences in the Sea of Cortez. It’s a bit humbling to know that Jacques Cousteau himself read “The Log from the Sea of Cortez” prior to Calypso’s arrival in the sea itself in the 1970’s and considered it one of the seminal works (at the time) on the biology and bio-diversity of the Sea of Cortez. Of course, once Jacques Cousteau and the crew of the Calypso were done studying the Sea of Cortez, their study became the seminal work on the Sea, still quoted today. On a personal level, I remember sitting on the deck of our boat and watching the Calypso steam past our anchorage in the Sea of Cortez in the 1970’s; which was a huge highlight for cruisers in the area at the time.
The fact that someone has made an effort to save the Western Flyer is most honorable, but if you take the time to google the fate of the Calypso, you’ll see that some have attempted to save and restore her, but petty human greed and bickering are taking their toll as much as the sea ever did.
If you sail or travel or have those aspirations, I challenge you to sit down with a copy of the classic, “Log of the Sea of Cortez” and give it a read. Or re-read it. Let me know what you think of it, could make you want to go there!!!