James Wharram >> Scuttlebutt Sailing News

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James Wharram, known for his unique double canoe style sailing catamaran designs, died on December 14 in Cornwall, UK. He was 93 years old.

James was a trailblazer, a fighter with great determination and vision. From an early age he followed his passions – to roam the hills – for a fair policy – for intelligent women – to sail the seas – to prove that the Polynesian double canoe is a profession worthy of the ocean – to become a man of the sea.

These passions made him a pioneer of catamaran sailing and a world-renowned designer of unique double canoe catamarans that now sail the oceans. He designed for people who wanted to get out of the mundane life, gave them boats they could build affordably, and gave them the opportunity to become seafarers like him.

The life he chose was never easy, he always fought convention and conventional thinking head on. His passionate and multi-faceted personality was very attractive to the strong and independent women who assisted him in his activities, starting with the Ruth farm, without which he would never have achieved his goals. Young Jutta joined them on their pioneering oceanic voyages and was the mother of her first son. Sadly, she passed away from a mental illness at a young age following her traumatic childhood experiences during World War II.

James has lived his entire life openly with more than one woman at a time, up to five in his prime in the 1970s, with whom he built and sailed his boats. Alongside Ruth, who died eight years ago at the age of 92, Hanneke Boon was her other life partner and soul mate.

“I first met James while he was designing his line of classic designs in the 1960s, which led to him becoming a cult figure in alternative society in the 1970s,” said explained Boon. “Over time I became his design partner and with Ruth we were an unbreakable unit. I gave birth to her second son and together we have given birth to many new models of double canoes.

James has achieved all he set out to do in this life, but has only received public recognition from the establishment in recent years. The final project was his autobiography, published a year ago under the title “People of the Sea”, on which he worked for many years, as he was very critical of his own writings. We worked together to complete and publish it.

People called James the great James Wharram, the living legend, but he didn’t think of himself as such. He was aware that it was his great number of builders and sailors, their beautiful ships and their great voyages that had created the famous Wharram World. He considered them to be the real heroes.

Over the past few years, James’s brain, which he always referred to as a separate entity, began to fail him due to Alzheimer’s disease. He was very grieved to lose his mental abilities and struggled with his diminished existence.

He couldn’t face the prospect of further disintegration and made the call very hard to end it himself. It was with great courage that he lived his life and with great courage he decided that it was time to end it. James joins Ruth, Jutta, and his many close friends who left before him.


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