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What does the name 'Jocara' mean?

The name ‘Jocara’ reflects the first names of her crew and the playful nature of exploring life and this blue planet in her, the word 'jocara' being close to the Italian verb for 'to play' (the Italians spell the verb 'giocare').

What about the kids' schooling?

We believe the kids will encounter tremendous learning opportunities in so many aspects of life during this trip. However, we also feel they should continue with some conventional school work. We have brought school books for a year and we are encouraging them (with limited success) to do 'boat school'. Alex is doing Dutch Primary 4 and Casper is working on Singapore Primary 6 to prepare him for Secondary 1 when we are back in Singapore.

What does it cost to purchase a boat like Jocara?

Whatever you can afford, or as little as you want to spend. Seriously, though, we've seen people cruising the oceans in boats they built form stuff that washed up on the beach, or they begged from people or recovered from old abandoned boats. Really. It maybe took them 15 years to get it together, but they've done it. You can also go out and spend US$3M+ on a boat and still need a pocket full of change to pay for expensive repairs and upkeep. the more fancy and large the boat, the higher the maintenance bill. Jocara is 30 years old, no longer considered 'fashionable' and of a more traditional hull shape that does not provide the space below that you would get from modern boats of the same length. She's also a beautiful lady. However, her mature vintage reduces her market value to something we could afford, less than US$200k. Well, we don't actually really own her, of course, there's a mortgage to pay!

What does it cost to run a boat like Jocara for a trip like this?

If everything is in good order, then we reckon on spending about US$10-20k a year on maintenance (doing most of the work ourselves) to keep her in good condition. Food, fuel and pocket money for a family of 4 comes to about US$1k/month when in developing countries and remote tropical islands.

What about storms at sea; aren't you ever frightened?

We have lots of changes of underpants. Seriously, though, of course we get a fright from time to time, but generally the monster waves of 'Perfect Storm' proportions are usually avoidable if you are cruising and we haven't had to contend with more than 40 knots and 5m seas so far. Jocara has weathered a hurricane, with previous owners.

What about pirates?

Sadly, there are some places that have become notorious for piracy. In some, like the South China Sea and Malacca Straits, the pirates go for commercial freighters and do not pose much of a threat to sailboats. In others, like the gulf of Aden and the southern Caribbean, there is a risk to cruisers. But a single tale will spread like an urban myth. The risk is probably not so very high, particularly if you keep away from the main trouble spots and listen out to the HF radio scheds for news and updates from other boats. The grapevine works at sea, too!

What's your biggest fear?

Maybe being run down by a freighter. Mid-ocean near-collisions happen more often than you might think. Freighters often do not keep much of a watch in the open ocean and sailboats are small and easily missed. We're also concerned about running into a partially submerged container, shed from a huge transport in heavy seas (they quite often lose many over the side when piled 7 high on deck in bad weather). Having a major accident or other medical emergency like appendicitis far out at sea ranks pretty high, too. It could be a week or more before we could get outside help.

Where were you when the Tsunami hit and what happened to you?

We were in deep water north of Grand Comoro on 26 December 2004, blissfully unaware of the tsunami as it rolled harmlessly beneath us and onto far shores. We are told that it was felt as a repeated rapid rise and fall of the water in ports and shores along the African coast and in Mauritius islands (including Rodrigues), sweeping some out to sea in places, but causing little other damage in these western shores. The first we heard of it was when friends and relatives emailed us asking if we were OK. Strange that in one way we are so immersed in the marine environment, so much an intimate part of it, yet simultaneously so disconnected and unaware of the tragedy and chaos being wrought around us.

What's the most wonderful place you've seen?

The one we just left. Each new discovery has it's merits (though Jakarta is a tough one to praise) and makes its own special imprint. There are coral paradises, like Cocos Keeling, beautiful little islands with friendly people, like Rodrigues, fabulous coves and beaches in huge deserted lands to explore, like Madagascar, idyllic lagoons with rich green islands, like in Mayotte. How to choose?

How did you get into this kind of life, this trip? How did you learn all you needed to know?

We simply made the choice to do it. In 1992 we thought it would be a neat experience to sail across an ocean, so we set about making it happen. Neither Caroline nor John have had a single hour's sailing instruction. We didn't have the money. People told us we wouldn't be able to find the time. So: no skills, money or time. But we just did it, nonetheless. Once you really decide to do something and begin, even not yet knowing how, the rest will fall into place. Like Yoda says "There is no try, do or do not do". Mind you, nobody says it'll be easy.


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