A Man of the Sea, sails the Oceans of Heaven
15.01.1928 - 14.12.2021
James aged 17. Image Hanneke Boon
James Wharram, a living legend, has died. James had led a life of his own choosing. He was a free thinker and a trailblazer, although he respected, and learned from, designers of twin hulled boats who had come before him.
His passions throughout his life were varied but his undying desire was to prove that the Polynesian double canoe was a capable and strong craft that could tackle the roughest seas. He was determined to design a vessel that would be cheap and easy to build so that more people could follow him sailing the oceans in safety and comfort. There were failures in the beginning as he learned the tricks of the trade but he eventually succeeded although the establishment didn’t give him the public recognition he so richly deserved until in recent years.
Throughout his life he attracted many strong independent women to his side, living openly with up to five women at the one time. They helped him design and build his boats. Women such as Ruth who became his wife and who encouraged him in all his endeavours and without whom he may not have achieved all that he has in his long life. She was his rock. She kept him on track, motivating and guiding.
A young German girl, Jutta, joined them in their early sailing days and gave birth to their first son. Sadly, she died young, due to mental illness caused by traumatic WWII childhood experiences. In the 1960’s Hanneke Boon entered James’ life, becoming his life partner and soul mate. Hanneke later gave birth to James’ second son, Jamie. Hanneke became James’ design partner in James Wharram Designs and together they created many new designs and she will continue into the future.
Hanneke and James celebrate his 91st birthday. Image Hanneke Boon
James, Ruth and Hanneke became a formidable team but sadly Ruth passed away eight years ago at the age of 92.
James didn’t see himself as anyone special, despite being referred to as The Living Legend by many. He believed that those who followed him by building and sailing his boats were the real heroes.
Sadly, James was suffering from Alzheimers and his brain began to fail him. Not wanting to go down that path, he made the courageous but painful decision to end his own life. So on December 14, 2021, James set out on his final journey, sailing the oceans of Heaven.
RIP, James. You lived a good life, accomplished all you wanted to, and ended your earthly journey on your own terms. You will be remembered by all those who are following in your wake, in your beautiful boats, sailing the oceans of the world.