James & Mei
When one has good wine,
A graceful boat,
And a maiden's love, Why envy the immortal gods?
- Li T'ai-po
Who is James Baldwin?
I'm originally from Michigan, where in 1979, at the age of twenty, I purchased Atom, a 28-foot 1963 Pearson Triton sailboat for the then fantastic sum of $12,000. In 1984-86 I completed my long held dream of sailing alone around the world. Since then I've cruised and worked as boat builder, writer, delivery skipper and numerous other jobs around the world.
In 1987 I sailed Atom alone (this time without an engine aboard) from Florida to Hong Kong. There I joined the Marco Polo Voyage, sailing as navigator on a three-masted 75-foot junk between Hong Kong, Macau and along the coast of China. This project won the Rolex Award for Enterprise. For the next seven years I sailed extensively in Southeast Asia, writing about my adventures among the islands for various sailing magazines. During this time I also worked two years for Hans Christian Yachts, first as production inspector in Taiwan and then as production manager at their new yard in Thailand.
What about Mei?
Mei is originally from a rural community in northwestern Taiwan. After graduating from business college she worked several years at export trading companies in Taipei. Her other interests include writing poetry in the classical Chinese form, cooking, and now, of course, sailing.
What are they doing now?
Following my second circumnavigation in 1999, Mei joined me in Trinidad where we were married. While in Trinidad I bought Lela Zoraida, renamed Zulu, a 60-foot wooden cargo schooner which we worked on for a few months before reselling her. Check Saga of a Jungle Schooner article for a reality check on wooden boat rescue. Despite the ordeal with "the boat who wouldn't float," Mei was still keen to join me in the summer of 2001 for her first long voyage when we delivered a 28-foot Taipan sloop from Venezuela to Brazil and then sailed back to Trinidad on a 44-foot Dean catamaran. We then returned to Atom in Venezuela to continue cruising the Caribbean and the US east coast. Between cruises in Atom we made another trans-Atlantic sailboat delivery, several delivery trips to the Caribbean and continue repairing and fitting out customer's cruising boats. In 2004 we purchased a house in Brunswick, Georgia, near the ICW and St. Simons Island. Soon after, we built a workshop in our backyard with two boat sheds. After publishing two books on my travels and completing another extensive refit of Atom in 2014 we have been working part time on customer's boats while sailing Atom frequently around local waters.
At our company, Cruising Yacht Services, we specialize in partial or complete refits of sailboats and act as consultants for sailboat owners preparing for extended offshore cruising. It may take someone years to learn what improvements and modifications their boat needs for comfortable and safe cruising. Besides knowing what equipment is desirable to have and how to use it, it's also important to learn what you don't need. The standard cruising reference books are helpful, but don't answer all questions relating to your particular boat, your experience level, and your specific cruising goals. For several years we have worked with people new to cruising to help them realize their dreams sooner rather than later. Whether you learn from others or do it entirely on your own, my advice; begin your journey today!
If you have questions, contact us.