Stories & Updates

Reflections on my grandfather, MA Petrich, Sr., builder of the Western Flyer

My grandfather, Martin A. Petrich, Sr., or MA, owned Western Boat Building Company, the shipyard that built the Western Flyer. She was launched in 1937 in Tacoma, Washington, built for MA’s friend Frank Berry and his son Tony, who accepted delivery of her in Monterey. The following year she would go on a voyage that would make her “the most famous boat in American literature.”

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Artist Spotlight: Ventana Surfboards

Martijn Stiphout and David Dennis of Ventana Surfboards & Supplies in Santa Cruz incorporate Western Flyer wood into their beautiful surfboards and other ocean-centric products. They’ve also collaborated with other artists and artisans on amazing projects in homage to Steinbeck, Ricketts, and the Western Flyer.

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Monterey County Gives 2022

November 10 is the first day of Monterey County Gives, a year-end campaign that inspires local philanthropy. We are using this campaign to help fund the Western Flyer’s next exciting chapter as a platform for education and research. Please consider joining our community of donors!

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Artist Spotlight: Andrea Dingeldein

Andrea Dingeldein (aka “The Local Naturalist”) specializes in visual depictions of the maritime environment. She illustrates everything from the flora and fauna of the ocean realm, to the vessels that have guided generations of humans toward scientific discovery. You will recognize some of Andrea’s work in our T-shirts and other designs.

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Restore, Rebuild, Re-create, or Rehabilitate?

By Chris Chase, Project Director,

The restoration of the Western Flyer has involved replacing nearly ninety percent of the original hull and twenty percent of the original house. This begs the question—at what point does it stop being the original boat? In this article, Chris Chase explores the terminology and what makes the Western Flyer the Western Flyer.

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Artist Spotlight: Jennifer DiArenzo

Jennifer DiArenzo is a pyrography artist from outside of Philadelphia, focusing her work on wildlife and nature, as well as pet portraiture. This mini surfboard collaboration project with Ventana Surfboards of Santa Cruz, CA, is made with wood from the Western Flyer and has been a big passion project for Jennifer.

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Chuck Baxter (1927-2022), the Sea of Cortez, and the Western Flyer

By William Gilly, Western Flyer Foundation Board,

On August 19th, our ocean community lost a beloved friend, Chuck Baxter, long-time marine biologist at Hopkins Marine Station and co-founder of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. In this tribute, WFF Board Member William Gilly reflects on their long friendship, their many nights philosophizing over fermented malt beverages, and their journeys to the Sea of Cortez.

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The Olympic Stove

Linda Powell-McMillan, Western Flyer Foundation Board,

The original cooking stove in the 1940 Western Flyer was a 1937 cast iron, diesel oil-burning Olympic stove. The original stove was lost, but thanks to sleuthing by our Western Flyer Project Manager, Chris Chase, a replacement was located on Craigslist. The stove is now temporarily stored in the cabin of the Western Flyer, waiting to be installed.

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The Atlas-Imperial diesel engine

By Tom Keffer, Board President,

For over 70 years, Western Flyer was powered by her original engine, a rugged Atlas-Imperial diesel. These engines were reliable, and very popular in their time. Manufactured in Oakland, CA, they were exported all over the world. Many are still in service.

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The Western Flyer Returns to the Sea!

By Chris Chase, Project Director,

It’s been an incredible few weeks here at the Western Flyer Foundation with lots of big changes. The Western Flyer reunited with the waters of the Salish Sea, and the Western Flyer Foundation appointed its first full-time Executive Director, Sherry Flumerfelt. Congratulations to all.

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“…open the page… let the stories crawl in by themselves”

This school year, students in Monterey County were invited “…to open the page and to let the stories crawl in by themselves” (John Steinbeck, Cannery Row), in the Western Flyer Foundation’s Community Journal Project. Through a series of five lessons led by their teachers and project mentors, students recorded deep observations in their journals about […]

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Monterey Bay, An Incredible Classroom

By William Gilly, Ph.D, Board Member and Chief Scientist with the Western Flyer Foundation June 3, 2022 Educational programs to be carried out on the Western Flyer in Monterey Bay are currently being developed through a collaboration of Western Flyer Foundation, Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, and the Naval Postgraduate School. The SEACOAST project […]

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“Inspire me a bit.”

A roundabout giving appeal, and Ed Ricketts’s roundabout approach to ecology. In 1940, Jack Calvin wrote a long letter to Ed Ricketts, urging him to come to Sitka on a collecting trip. A year before, Calvin and Ricketts’s ecological landmark, Between Pacific Tides, finally saw print after years of research, rewriting and resistance to publication […]

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Western Flyer Restoration Episode 35

The original wheelhouse is installed back onto the Western Flyer.

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Hunt for a lost book from the Ed Ricketts collection

In this episode of Stories, Shorts, and Outtakes, we hear from Don Kohrs, head librarian at the Harold A. Miller Library of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. Don tells the story of a treasure hunt to find a book that Ed Ricketts owned in high school, in which he had written some notes. The hunt […]

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A letter from the Board President

Dear Supporter, We need your help! We are oh-so-close to getting the boat in the water and ready for her trip to her new home in Monterey, California, but there are still a few missing pieces. Look how far we have come. For years, Western Flyer languished in the waters of Puget Sound, forgotten and […]

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“Let’s go wide open.”

Susan Shillinglaw, professor of English at San Jose State Univeristy and founding board member of the Western Flyer Foundation, reads her favorite section from the introduction to the Log From the Sea of Cortez.

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The Western Flyer Foundation’s Community Journal Project

This school year, the Western Flyer Foundation is piloting the Community Journal Project with students in Monterey County. This project focuses on environmental literacy through the integration of art, science, and creative writing. Middle and high school students work with art and writing mentors as they create Community Journals. The curriculum for this program is […]

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