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Crew Follows in Steinbeck's Wake

A scientific and literary team is trying to re-create a voyage from Monterey to Baja that was chronicled by the author.

March 27, 2004|Kenneth R. Weiss | Times Staff Writer

MONTEREY, Calif. — A group of scientists and adventurers departed Friday from Old Fishermen's Warf to re-create the 1940 seafaring voyage of author John Steinbeck and his pal Edward F. Ricketts, immortalized in the book "The Log From the Sea of Cortez."

The crew and passengers spent a final frantic day loading food, scientific equipment and personal gear aboard the Gus D, a wooden shrimp trawler remarkably similar in appearance to the sardine boat that carried Steinbeck and his entourage to Baja and back more than 60 years ago.

"I forgot my passport and my visa," said Sue Malinowski, the expedition's volunteer cook, who scurried off the boat to retrieve it.

When she returned, she passed around a bottle of brandy, suggesting that was in keeping with the spirit of the initial voyage.

"It's in the book, Page 28, I believe," Malinowski said, referring to "The Log From the Sea of Cortez." "They had a bottle of medicinal brandy and didn't leave until everyone was medicated." The ship's hold is filled with 70 cases of beer, donated by North Coast Brewing Co., and food donated by Whole Foods.

The trip, part scientific expedition and part literary adventure, is being led by William F. Gilly, a Stanford marine scientist. Also in the party are Chuck Baxter, a retired lecturer from Stanford's Hopkins Marine Lab; Jon Christensen, a freelance writer who is spending the year as a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University; and Nancy Burnett, one of the founders of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Semi-retired fisherman Frank Donahue owns the Gus D and will be its captain during the 4,000-mile trip, which was delayed about two weeks by Pacific storms. The group will meet other U.S. and Mexican scientists along the way and expects to spend two months at sea before returning to Monterey.

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