A fan wrote me and asked me what Jim liked to do when he wasn’t working. One of Jim’s loves was boating. I believe that came from his childhood when he would ice boat on the frozen lakes of Minnesota. Jim told me one time that is he hadn’t become an actor he would have become a seaman.
Over the years Jim had a couple of sailboats. But in 1968 he decided to have a catamaran built. Not any catamaran, but one big enough to accommodate his 6’7” height and fast enough to match his sporting interest. He asked Rudy Choy, a Hawaiian, to build a 58’ catamaran and also asked it to be the fastest one ever built. In 1969 he launched Seasmoke III at the LA Yacht club. Milburn Stone and Ken Curtis were there to cheer Jim on. Seasmoke III entered 10 ocean races in one year finishing first in every event. In 1969 Jim entered the Trans-Pacific race to Hawaii. She sailed 2225 miles in 10 days 9 hours leaving the second catamaran 2 days behind. Jim was so proud of that race and I still have the trophy he won. A few years later Jim donated it to the Sea Scouts. Its ownership has passed through several hands since and she ended up in Hawaii. It’s used as a touring boat today on the island of Maui.
This is a quote from Jim about his love of the sea. (It is a quote from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.)
“There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep Sea, and the music in its roar:
I love not Man the less, But Nature more,
From these are interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.”