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Thread: Whatever happened to The James?

  1. #1
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    Default Whatever happened to The James?

    Some of you might dimly remember, back in May of 2014 my wife Kate, who had just completed her Masters degree, got a surprise offer to go and teach in Singapore on a two-year contract. We figured that an opportunity for adventure like this didn’t come along just every day, and besides, what was two years, anyways? We’d come back with all sorts of stories to tell. I maybe wouldn’t even go full time. I could stay in Anacortes working as a shipwright, and she or I would go or come to visit on holidays and stuff. . .

    I had invested a considerable amount of time and energy and money and passion into developing as a wooden boat shipwright and professional yacht joiner after all. It formed a great deal of my identity, as did sailing and using the boats I had built or owned. I put thousands of hours of practice and study towards this goal. What could possibly lead me to give all that up?

    Well (SPOILERS AHEAD) eventually it came down to a simple quality of life issue. After spending a month in Singapore helping Katie to set up camp, after I came back, I just wasn’t satisfied. I had gotten a glimpse behind the curtain, and came to the inescapable conclusion that I was working too hard, for too little pay, in a country that I now realized had a dramatically lower standard of living than what I had imagined was possible. Plus, I totally missed my sweetie, and the whole long-distance relationship thingie was far less endurable than I had so blithely imagined beforehand. It got harder and harder to rationalize why I was continuing on with this two year plan. . .and especially since Kate was absolutely thriving in her new environment. I flew out for a week at Thanksgiving to meet her–and it turned out to be the final straw.

    By Christmastime, I had sold all my shares in the boatyard, got a renter for our house, and had moved to Singapore full time. I got a job running the MakerSpace for a fancy, up-scale international school–which keeps me in tools and supplies for every fun little hobby you can imagine. And since I’m now working on a school year schedule, same as Kate, we’ve had the privilege of months and months of shared time off to go travel and explore the world–or at least we did before COVID hit, anyways..

    And here it is almost eight years later, and I’ve never regretted that decision even a tiny bit. Life in Singapore is utterly different from what I had done before, but it suits us ever so well. I enjoy coming back to the PNW once in a while for a visit, of course–Rowan is still there, staged on her trailer, ready for action. But I do not see many paths that could lead me to willingly return to the US to live again. We sold our house in Anacortes. We are full-on ex-pats now.




  2. #2
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    I have gone back and done a few adventures in these years, but I'm afraid I never buckled down to write about them. I think I got out of the habit. And to be honest, since I was no longer working as a shipwright, I think it's entirely possible I lost some of my motivation to proselytise for the wooden boat lifestyle. It no longer mattered to me as much to keep my finger in the pie and my voice in the mix. I daresay that's been good for me, and my emotional maturity.

    I stopped caring if anyone was paying attention, and was doing it solely for my own reasons.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Here's a few more pics of trips with Tim and Eric or from solo adventures from those years:


    Guemes Channel. I still owned the house in Anacortes back then.


    Watmough Bay at the south end of Lopez Island.


    Some friendships transcend any international boundary

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?


    I think this is Saddlebag Island/Fidalgo Bay




    This is probably in the Gulf Islands, halfway to Nanaimo

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Here's a nice double-reefed downhill sled ride up in the Gulf Islands:

    Last edited by James McMullen; 06-07-2022 at 04:17 AM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Here in Singapore I ride a different pony. The water is bathtub warm, and there's no particular place to go camp in a small boat that isn't too hot, or has too many crocodiles. So I have a strict daysailer, a carbon-fibre trimaran called a Weta. It's much less frightening to push your limits and risk getting splashed if the water temperature isn't actively trying to murder you with hypothermia.

    Here, it's the equatorial sun that is actively trying to kill you.



    It would be a terrible cruising boat. Far too twitchy and high-strung. You cannot relax. Takes far too long to set up and take down the rig. This is a fun boat for daysailing, though. You're usually plenty exhausted after a few hours, and more than content to head for shore to sit under the palm trees drinking beer. And even with Katie or other crew along to tame her down, she's still plenty of exciting.


    Last edited by James McMullen; 06-07-2022 at 04:17 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Here's a short video of Cluster in action. Also, yes, I learned how to build banjos in the last few years too. And I'm even starting to figure out how to play one.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Anyways, I'm heading back to the US for the first time since 2019 tomorrow, and I plan to spend a week or so knocking around my old stomping grounds in the Salish Sea aboard Rowan. Tim's been keeping her under cover at his house for me, bless him, and I'm looking forward to doing some Sail & Oar cruising again. I'll probably even take some pics.
    Last edited by James McMullen; 06-07-2022 at 04:56 AM.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    "I……………..came to the inescapable conclusion that I was working too hard, for too little pay, in a country that I now realized had a dramatically lower standard of living than what I had imagined was possible."

    That is such a sad statement to read considering the position of your country in world affairs and it's resources, and is also a sad commentary on successive governments and their straying from the ideals of the constitution. The present state of the nation re firearm casualties prompts me to say be careful.
    But also have some fun in your old haunts, but don't forget the water temperature when taking a bath over the side.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Nice to see you, James. I’d like to hear more about the banjo making sometime. I made the little folk banjo from the Fine Woodworking article and I love their sound.

    Hope you have a nice visit.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Thanks for the update. Keep your head up and have fun!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Welcome back. A change sounds nice.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    prepare for some SHRINKAGE !!!!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Congratulations on finding great answers to questions too many people don’t even realize they face. Also, I am glad to see that your skill as a writer is undiminished. You should do something with it.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    James!

    I'm so happy to see a post from you again, even if you have abandoned us all to go live in Singapore. (I guess I can't point too many fingers your way, as my wife and I are selling up and moving away from the U.S. ourselves (again) in another couple of months).

    It's a pity you never got to the Canadian Great Lakes for some sailing (but then, it's never too late, is it?) without all those pesky tides and cold water. Well, there's cold water. But there's also water warm enough for comfy swimming. You just have to pick the right area in the right lake, is all.

    But sit your butt at a keyboard somewhere and keep writing. You've got a voice, and opinions, and plenty to write about. Maybe even a post here now and then, eh?

    Fair winds and following seas, James--it's good to see you pop in again.

    Cheers,

    Tom
    Ponoszenie konsekwencji!

    www.tompamperin.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Was it really as long ago as 2014?

    I guess it was. Our outing to The Broughtons, as documented by Tim's thread that year, was the last time the sail-and-oar mafia got together for a long trip.
    Alex

    “It's only those who do nothing that make no mistakes, I suppose.”
    - Joseph Conrad, An Outcast of the Islands

    http://www.alexzimmerman.ca

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Good to hear you're prospering and sailing, James. Stay safe and stay happy.

    Jeff

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Quote Originally Posted by AJZimm View Post
    Was it really as long ago as 2014?

    I guess it was. Our outing to The Broughtons, as documented by Tim's thread that year, was the last time the sail-and-oar mafia got together for a long trip.
    Yep, if you all had told me you were disbanding after 2014, I might have tried to finish my Alaska a little more quickly and get out there. Three years too late, and one mizzen too short, I guess. Story of my life.

    Tom
    Ponoszenie konsekwencji!

    www.tompamperin.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    It's lovely to hear it's still working out in Singapore. Brisk winds!!
    David G
    Harbor Woodworks
    https://www.facebook.com/HarborWoodworks/

    "It was a Sunday morning and Goddard gave thanks that there were still places where one could worship in temples not made by human hands." -- L. F. Herreshoff (The Compleat Cruiser)

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Good to hear from you. Glad things are going well. I have always had soft spot for fast little trimarans.
    What's not on a boat costs nothing, weighs nothing, and can't break

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Singapore is a great place to live. After a while it can make the idea of moving anywhere else in the world seem something of a step backwards.

    Well done on getting a Weta, we have a rapidly growing fleet of them out here in Dubai. They are a lot of fun and attract a decent bunch of sailors.

    Do drop me a PM if you are ever passing through Dubai and perhaps wanted to borrow one, I'm sure I could rustle one up from somewhere. We have plenty of murderous equatorial sun, palm trees to sit under and cold beer to drink after sailing. You sound like you'd fit right in!

    Ed

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Your posts come up a lot if one is searching the forum trying to decide on a certain type of boat. I always valued your input--chiefly that there isn't one perfect boat, but that one should choose their boat based on their preferences and sailing grounds.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    It's good to here you are still alive. We've definitely missed your energy and enthusiasm for boats since you have been gone.
    "I see!" said the blind man who picked up his hammer and saw.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Good to hear from you & I'm glad that life is good. Please do pop back in with some posts when the mood strikes you.
    "If it ain't broke, you're not trying." - Red Green

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Sounds like you are living your best life James. I'm happy for you! Don't forget about the rest of us back here in the cold and rainy PNW...
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    That 2014 reference put me into shock, but you are right that was 8 years ago. It's quieter around here without you James, but glad you like the expat life. And for sure crocodiles and heat would put me off the camp cruising.

    Rick

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Last Sunday I was rummaging in the shop for gear to cast some bronze bits and as I pulled out the kiln you and I built as part of batch for a class you were running for the CWB I wondered to myself how you were faring. Good hear the answer is "well".

    The universe is a funny place.
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
    H.A. Calahan

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Wonderful to hear from you! I do miss sailing in tropical waters.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    It's a shame we only live once, because there are so many other possibilities life.
    I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    I enjoyed reading and viewing your update, thanks.
    It's good to learn that things are going well for you in Singapore.
    There is nothing quite as permanent as a good temporary repair.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Thanks for all the warm greetings, guys! I really ought to post more often.

    I have still been doing a little boatbuilding, you know. A very little. It's impossible to completely shake off a severe addiction.

    For example:


    and this:


    and even this:



  32. #32
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    I haven't built a Rowan-in-a-Bottle yet, but I'm pretty sure it will show up, once I empty enough bottles.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Worth noting “The James” stands as a self-assigned nickname. No one actually actually refers to El McMullet via the definitive article, at least around these parts.
    Quote Originally Posted by James McMullen View Post
    Yeadon is right, of course.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    It's still better than what they called me in Grade 2.

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Whatever happened to The James?

    Glad to hear it's going well for you. If only more from the U.S. could spend some time living in another part of the world.
    -Dave

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