Her Story - France
Kokachin, originally named Matahina, started her life on a farm in Bussieres, a little village 70 km NE from Paris. Her hull and deck and some of the interior were built by Mr Fabrice Jossete, a professional carpenter. He started building her in 2009 and spent two years building the hull alone plus many more on the rest of the boat. Last work he did was in 2016 . He moved away from the area, realising that he would not be able to complete her. Via a grapevine we heard about her being for sale on LeBonCoin in France.
In no time we booked flights, hired a car and went to see her. Our first encounter with this bizarre looking structure surrounded with a vast expanse of French countryside was filled with intense excitement. Having previously decided to build a catamaran, here we were signing a contract for her purchase over glasses of champagne! What one does during infatuation. But why not?
Her Story - UK
The drive back to the airport, surrounded by monstrously big fast approaching lorries on busy airport roundabouts, was more terrifying than being in a gale.
Organising her transport was a feat in itself and it cost a fortune. Coordinating the transport, crane and paperwork was critical, our nerves in the UK were frail. Miraculously everything fell into place: Mr Josset drove in time from Dieppe, the Bour crane made it to the little village and so did the Southern Transport lorry from the UK, not to mention our paperwork arrived at the very last minute.
She made it safely to Southdown Marina and champagne flew once again in August 2019. We were elated and are in anticipation of another celebration soon.
Design & Spec
Kokachin is 12.5 metre Le Forestier Jonque de Plaisance - designed by Dimitri Le Forestier.
She is a traditional Chinese-looking junk schooner with a relatively shallow hull with a long keel giving 1.2 metre draught and a centreboard increasing the draft 2.20 metres. The 3.3 ton ballast is internal. Her hull is cold moulded double diagonal over strip planking. She has sapele laminated frames spaced 1 metre apart set on a laminated sapele keel. The hull is planked with 20mm strips of Mediterranean pine. Externally two layers of 4mm sapele, all glued and coated with epoxy.
Deck beams are laminated sapele. Decks are 25 mm plywood.
Our requirements were:
Storage / Tanks
Sails well - junk rig
Pilothouse / Cabin windows (not a ‘cave’)
Two cabins / Good galley / Hull insulated
View from cockpit
We were aware that not all of them could be met as it is obvious that the ideal boat does not exist. We were looking for a live aboard home that could take us where we wanted to go. We wanted a shallow draught boat because it gives us wider access to cruising and anchoring grounds. Keeping the boat warm was important. Many boats failed to meet these requirements. The advantage of a half built boat was that half of the work was done but the disadvantage is we have to live with what is already built. Some compromises have to be made.
All efforts were made to make the boat as simple as possible. However, due to her features she proved to be a complicated and therefore time consuming boat to finish to match our needs.
A Google search of her original name, "Matahina", listed a nuclear power station in New Zealand. A new name was needed quickly because of SSR documents and customs forms. Having just recently named “Blossom” our pool of names was exhausted. I flippantly suggested to Pete: “How about Marko Polo’s mistress, he must have had one!?”. Because it is common knowledge on Korcula that Marko Polo was born there, my birthplace too. I liked the idea of my boat being associated with him. To my surprise, Pete shortly exclaimed: “Kokachin''! How funny, who would have thought that Google could find Marko Polo’s “mistress”. It seems her name might be translated as “Dark Complexion” and by sheer coincidence “Kokachin’s” hull is dark too.
"Kokachin" was a Mongolian princess who was betrothed to the Persian prince Arghun by Kublai Khan, who entrusted Marko Polo to take her to Persia. During their 9 year journey to get there (why so long!?) something must have happened…. We hope not to take as long a time to get anywhere. It’s not surprising that we called "Kokachin"’s dinghy “Marko”.
As well as giving us the photographs and permission to use them this is what Mr Josset sent us when asked to comment :
"At the age of 43, I decided to build a boat a bit off the beaten track and as a carpenter to do a different kind of work. During her construction, I met several extraordinary people in the world of the boat building. Although life does not always grant us success, I am delighted to have sold it to Linda and Peter because in their hands Kokachin will be able to live. While waiting for her to be launched, I can't wait to be able to walk up her deck, no doubt, filled with real emotions."