November 16, 2023 – It’s been almost two weeks since the Western Flyer returned to Monterey, and we are still basking in the warm glow of an incredible weekend! Over two thousand attendees, sunny weather, enthusiastic government representatives recognizing our efforts, great music, and fun activities… we’re not sure it could have gone any better, and we attribute the success to our incredible community. So many people and partners invested time, energy, resources, and a whole lot of love into making this an event for the history books!
A heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in the event, either in person at Fisherman’s Wharf, by joining the boat parade, volunteering, organizing other fun events throughout the weekend, or tuning into our social media stories. It made us so happy to celebrate with you!
For those unable to attend in person (and for those looking to relive the experience), we hope you enjoy this photographic recap and timeline of the day.
10:00 am – The Western Flyer, festively decorated in signal flags and flowers, departed Moss Landing, accompanied by a flotilla of local boats escorting her out of the harbor.
The Flyer began a 1.5-hour journey from Moss Landing to Monterey, accompanied by some very special passengers. In addition to our Board and friends, passengers included Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams, Monterey Mayor Tyller Williamson, Captain Tony Berry’s daughter Geraldine Schwarz (aka “Gerry Berry”) and her daughter Kerrie Gibson, Tony Berry and Sparky Enea’s nephew Bob Enea (who has been working to bring the Flyer back to Monterey for decades!), marine artist Ray Troll, and Sant Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Kirk Johnson.
11:00 am – Back at Old Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, the party was already underway with people dancing to the Mariachi Trio, Serenatas Directo, and enjoying fun science and art activities, including sinking foil boats, intertidal Lotería, sketching intertidal creatures, and making a “Hope Rope” for the Flyer. Over a hundred guests received free giveaways, including copies of The Log from the Sea of Cortez (thank you, Penguin Classics!) and Western Flyer hand lenses.
11:30 am – As the Western Flyer neared the one-mile marker outside of the harbor, she was greeted by Monterey’s fire boat and dozens of local vessels. As our Board Member Susan Shillinglaw describes the moment: “When we turned into the Bay, suddenly there were dozens of boats, sailing boats and fishing boats, skiffs and a kayak or two, all escorting Western Flyer to the Monterey harbor. I was teary-eyed as I watched the many sea friends bobbing and churning through the water to bring her home.”
11:50 am – Back on Old Fisherman’s Wharf, crowds and camera crews lined the docks, cheering for the Western Flyer’s return: “There she is! She’s coming!” The Monterey Fire Boat shot a plume of water high into the air as the Western Flyer sailed into the Monterey harbor for the first time in 75 years. Many in the crowd reported that they were moved to tears.
12:00 pm – Escorted by Monterey’s harbor patrol boat, Captain Paul Tate maneuvered the Flyer into its spot at California dock with hoots and cheers from onlookers (check out drone footage of the moment).
The boat parade then sailed past the end of Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where descendants of the 1940 Western Flyer crew had gathered to judge the Best Dressed Boat contest. Family members of Ed Ricketts, John Steinbeck, Carol Steinbeck, and Tex Travis joined in on the fun.
The boat parade included dozens of sailboats, a research boat, a whale-watching boat, motorboats, and even historic fishing boats, including two that would have fished alongside the Flyer in the 30s and 40s—the General Pershing (1930) and Little Britches (1927).
12:30 pm – Monterey Library & Museums Director Brian Edwards kicked off the ceremony with fun facts and quotes from the Sea of Cortez. Elected officials took to the stage to welcome the Western Flyer home, including Congressman Jimmy Panetta, Supervisor Mary Adams, Supervisor Luis Alejo, and Monterey Mayor Tyller Williamson. We’re also grateful to Councilmember Ed Smith for joining the celebrations.
We were incredibly honored to receive proclamations, resolutions, and special recognitions of the restoration and return of the Western Flyer from Congressman Panetta, Supervisor Adams, Supervisor Alejo, and Mayor Williamson. State Assemblymember Dawn Addis and State Senator John Laird also honored our team with special recognition earlier in the week.
1:00 pm – The Mariachi band took to the stage again, the dancing resumed, and the boat tours began! People from as far away as Ireland came to tour the restored Western Flyer, view the wheelhouse, and walk in the footsteps of Steinbeck and Ricketts. By the end of the day, more than 750 people had signed our Boat Tour guest book, with many braving an hour-long line to tour the boat.
2:30 pm – We announced the winners of the boat parade, who received magnificent fossil prizes (200 to 500 million years old!) donated by our founder, John Gregg. First place went to R/V Current’Sea, second place to Midori, and third place to Little Britches. Congratulations to the winners, and a very big thanks to all of the participants for making the day so special! Read more about the boat parade.
2:45 pm – The party continued with the lively bluegrass band Wayward Jerry. Volunteers coordinated activities, including our boat building (and sinking) game, the Hope Rope (in which people left a wish for the Western Flyer’s future), Lotería, sketching, and haiku writing. Thank you loyal volunteers!
Many entered our drawing for breakfast in the galley of the Western Flyer with Captain Paul Tate (we notified the lucky winner a few days ago). We sold out of our Homecoming merchandise, but it’s now available online at www.westernflyer.org/merchandise.
4:00 – 5:00 pm – Because interest was so strong all afternoon, we extended the boat tours for another hour to accommodate everyone in line, and plan on holding more open houses soon to meet the incredible demand. Sign up for our newsletter or visit our events page for updates.
Everyone at the Western Flyer Foundation extends a huge thanks to the 24 volunteers who helped out on Fisherman’s Wharf. We couldn’t have done it without you. Nor could we have celebrated so joyously without the incredible support of the community. We were collectively awed and delighted by the turnout.
The celebrations extended throughout the weekend. Local nonprofit COAST and fisheries historian Tim Thomas led historic walking tours on Saturday and Sunday. The City of Monterey opened Pacific Biological Laboratories for extra tours. Lowtide and Other Brother Brewery held an Art and Science Soirée on Sunday night in Seaside with the amazing Ray Troll and Kirk Johnson.
To quote Steinbeck, “This is the Monterey we love.”