A California millionaire businessman has stumped up the cash for the author's fishing vessel.

The 23-metre fishing boat that American author John Steinbeck chartered with marine biologist Ed Rickets in 1940 on a trip the writer recounted in his non-fiction work The Log From the Sea of Cortez is set to be overhauled.

The 1937-built boat is known to have sunk at least twice in the years since Steinbeck and Rickets chartered it. The Western Flyer is currently in dry dock in Port Townsend, Washington, awaiting repair before being moved to Monterey, California, where it will become an educational centre.

California millionaire businessman John Gregg reportedly purchased the Western Flyer for $1m, and the boat is in need of an additional $2m of repairs before it will be seaworthy.

Gregg said: “I have enough boats that you would think I would know better than to get another one that doesn’t like to float. It’s a disaster, its muddy and full of oil, scary things, so it’s really in bad shape now.

“I’d like to just restore it. Pretty much the way it was when it went down to the Sea of Cortez, and have it used for science and education.”

Gregg decided to restore the boat because he read novels by Steinbeck as a child.

“I read Steinbeck’s stories as a young guy and I always was inspired by that sort of thing,” he said. “I identified with the adventure and science.”

Steinbeck, an American author, is known for such classics of fiction as Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, and his book about his trip on the Western Flyer led to the boat being called, “the most famous fishing vessel ever to have sailed.”

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