About James Thomas

James E Thomas is a Marine Surveyor who developed the passion for boating at a very early age and has served the marine industry for forty years. Since 1976, he explored his interest in boats and developed a passion for sailing in the sea. He made his first successful delivery by crewing 2000 miles from Great Lakes to Florida on a boat called Tenacious that was purchased by Mr Ted Turner who then refitted it at the Rybovich/Spencer Boatyard in West Palm Beach. 

Palmer Johnson Inc was a renowned boat making company in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. They are well known for designing and making some of the highest quality boats in the world. James got a golden opportunity to begin his professional career in boatbuilding as an apprenticeship program with this company in 1978. There he took part in the construction and repair of yachts in different materials like wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. He learned how to build and assemble all the components of a finely fitted yacht to match with the world-class standards like Lloyds and ABS. 

Working closely in the services department enabled him to specialize in reconstructing of a wood boat. Similarly, the rigging department taught him mast stepping off the boat. He also got to experience seasonal sailing while occasionally racing and delivering sailboats on Lake Michigan. 

In 1981, James Thomas finally kicked start his career as a yachting professional and a full-time crew member on large auxiliary sailing yachts, thereby making deliveries out of the Great Lakes to Southern waters via Erie barrage canal or St Lawrence Seaway. He was the first mate and skipper on a Maxi named “Ondine IV” that belonged to Mr Sumner Long, crossing the St Lawrence Seaway twice. Firstly, he competed in 1982 SORC from Newport to Bermuda and the second was the Antigua race week, thereby total sailing for over 140,000 miles on that boat. 

He spent most of his time in boatyards like Derecktor/Gunnell, Newport Offshore, and Miami Shipyard. Shortly by the end of the same year, he crewed on a boat called ‘Boomerang’ while racing on Long Island Sound. While returning from Florida, he became a captain of a 62′ Alden, known as ‘Independent’ that belonged to Mr John G.O. Hara sailing in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Soon in 1984, he was relocated to San Diego and recommenced his career as a boat builder and started his own company by the name of James Thomas Yacht Services. The company was directed towards providing services like repairs, restorations, and managing modifications of the local boats. On weekends, he enjoyed racing up and down the Southern California coast and Mexico on all types of boats ranging from Stars and Stripes 86″ to Heart of America. 

In 1986-1988 he was hired to work in the aerospace industry for Composite Optics in San Diego, where he worked as a lead technician to build a carbon fiber structure that housed the Mars Observer Telescope and successfully mapped the planet. However, he returned to his passion for boatbuilding when he was hired as a skipper for worldwide cruising beginning in the Bahamas and Florida.

He spent two seasons in the Caribbean and Venezuela, visiting numerous ports and approximately 30 Islands thereby traveling for around 45,000 miles at sea. His past experiences in yacht maintenance companies and extensive experience in dealing with construction and reconstruction of the boats gave him the leverage to continue his business for another 20 years in the marine service industry refitting and maintaining yachts in San Diego.


JAMES THOMAS marine surveyor


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National Association of Marine Surveyors