Jan de Groot was born in 1932 in The Hague, Holland. He lived through the German occupation of Holland in the Second World War, and later, at the age of eighteen, he became a merchant mariner and roamed the world by sea. In 1957 he emigrated to Canada and in 1960 married a young Dutch woman who had also emigrated to Canada. They had two children, and Jan pursued a landlubbing career for thirteen years in the corporate world. In 1970, he returned to a seagoing life and operated a charter yacht in the Caribbean until 1980, divorcing and remarrying along the way. Jan is a certified master of seagoing vessels, and upon his return to Canada in 1980 he became a marine surveyor, inspecting ships and yachts for prospective purchasers, banks, and insurance companies.
Jan is now a widower and lives in Langley, B.C. He regularly contributes articles to boating magazines, and he writes for De Krant, a Dutch newspaper distributed throughout the world mainly to Dutch emigrants. He has also self-published Buying the Right Boat, a how-to book for yachting enthusiasts, and two books about his adventures in the Caribbean, No Shoes Allowed and Gone to Come Back.