Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.


About Us John and Amanda Neal, Mahina Expeditions

John Neal

John was born on the banks of Africa's Blue Nile River. At the age of 22 his love of adventure and travel fueled a desire to sail to the South Pacific from Seattle aboard his 27' Vega sloop. Log of Mahina chronicled his voyage and adventures and became a best seller. To answer the frequently-asked question, "How can I find and prepare a boat for ocean voyaging?" he conducted the first of now 156 Offshore Cruising Seminars in 1976. In 1990, to meet the requests for hands-on offshore instruction, John established Mahina Expeditions with the goal of sharing his knowledge of ocean voyaging in a safe and supportive environment. John has conducted 171 sail-training expeditions aboard his Hallbery-Rassy 42, Mahina Tiare II, and Hallberg-Rassy 46, Mahina Tiare III, sailing 342,000 miles in the South Pacific, Caribbean, Patagonia, Antarctica, Atlantic, Scandinavia and the Arctic. John and has rounded Cape Horn six times under sail and holds a USCG 100-ton Master's and private pilot's licenses.

Amanda Swan Neal

Amanda grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and sailed to Sausalito, Seattle and Vancouver as a teenager aboard a 38' sloop she helped her parents build. Upon returning to New Zealand, she became a sailmaker for Hoods and transferred professions to rigging with Noake's Rigging in Sydney, Australia then Southern Spars in NZ. In 1990 she completed The Whitbread Around the World Race (now The Volvo Race) as rigger aboard Maiden, the first all-women Whitbread boat. Amanda's 300,000 miles of ocean sailing include two Sydney-Hobart Races, numerous international regattas and seven Cape Horn roundings intermixed with a ten-year involvement in tall ship sail-training. Since joining John in 1994 for Mahina Tiare's Cape Horn and Antarctic expeditions, Amanda has co-skippered aboard Mahina Tiare. She is author of The Essential Galley Companion and since 2005 has written the monthly Galley Essentials column in 48 North magazine. Amanda enjoys introducing women to the joys of the cruising lifestyle and her personal interests include Celtic step dancing, photography, triathlon training and sewing. She holds a NZ Commercial Launchmaster's license.

Amanda and John spend seven months at sea sailing 10,000 miles annually. When not at sea, they enjoy winter kayaking from their island home at Roche Harbor, 8 miles east of Victoria, B.C. Their website is:

Magazines Contributed to: Blue Water Sailing, Yachting World (UK), Australian Yachting, Cruising World, Cruising Helmsman (Australia), 48 North, Latitude 38, SAIL, Sailing, Yachting, Ocean Navigator and Practical Sailor.

Books Authored: The Essential Galley Companion (Amanda), Log of the Mahina, Mahina Tiare, Pacific Passages (John), Offshore Cruising Companion, Offshore Expedition Companion, Storm Survival Tactics (John and Amanda), Selecting and Purchasing an Ocean Cruising Sailboat (John).
Books Contributed to: World Voyage Planner, World Cruising Survey by Jimmy Cornell, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship, fourth edition, by John Rousmaniere, Surviving the Storm by Steve Dashew, NOAA-PVS Safety Manual, Voyager's Handbook by Beth A. Leonard, Sharks of Tropical and Temperate Seas, R.H. Johnson, Fifty Places to Sail Before You Die by Chris Santella.
Videography: Heavy Weather Sailing (1981) (contributor), Sailing to Cape Horn (1995), Sailing to Antarctica (1996).

Areas of Experience: Caribbean, Mexico, Atlantic including Azores, Canaries, and Madeira, Patagonia (Chile and Argentina), Cape Horn (six roundings), Antarctica to edge of ice pack, Brazil, Uruguay, Pacific including Galapagos, Panama, Juan Fernandez, Cocos, Clipperton, Easter, Pitcairn, French Polynesia, Cooks, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Wallis, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Alaska, British Columbia. Europe including the Med including Balaerics and Malta, Ireland, England, Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, Norway, Spitsbergen to edge of ice pack, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

Click HERE for interviews and podcasts.

To check out interview of John & Amanda in December issue of Blue Water Sailing, click HERE.
Living Legends: 10 Questions with John & Amanda Click here to read more!

Seminars Offered by John and Amanda Neal

Each seminar can be presented in 50 - 80 minutes and is accompanied by over 150 PowerPoint images plus detailed printed handouts

1. Storm Survival Tactics
Survival becomes critical when storm avoidance is no longer an option. John & Amanda Neal show you the safest survival tactics including some radical new techniques based on their combined 644,000 miles and decades of Southern Ocean experience plus surviving the Queen's Birthday Storm. A concise 25-page text is available illustrating and detailing this seminar.

2. South Pacific Sailing from Panama to New Zealand
Sail to exotic uncrowded South Seas isles where friendly islanders are pleased to welcome you. Weather, passage planning, safe & secluded anchorages plus new services available to cruisers are detailed in images and a free handout. John and Amanda Neal's combined 408,000 miles and 60 years of South Pacific experience detailed on

3. Sailing to Europe and Back
John and Amanda Neal detail an exciting voyage with many colorful landfalls taking less than six months to reach Europe. Passage planning, storm avoidance and landfall information for destinations in Azores, United Kingdom, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean are highlighted in the presentation and included in a detailed free handout.

4. Selecting an Offshore Cruising Boat
John Neal details 20 key points to consider when purchasing a boat for extended passage making, based on his 332,000 miles and 40 years of teaching and voyaging. Drawing on his extensive and objective knowledge of boats and builders worldwide, he has helped over 10,000 sailors find their dream boats. A free handout provides additional information.

5. Challenges of High Latitude Sailing Adventures
Details of planning and undertaking ultimate adventures whether to Antarctica, Cape Horn, Svalbard, Iceland, Norway and Alaska based on John and Amanda Neal's decades of leading high-latitude sail-training adventures, including images from a 7,000-mile voyage from Sweden to Orkney, Shetland, Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Iceland and St. Kilda completed in September 2016.

6. Ocean Voyaging Preparation
20 steps to prepare for sailing to Mexico, the South Pacific, Alaska or the Med. Topics covered include: selecting and outfitting your boat, electrical systems, navigation, cost of cruising, insurance, seamanship and communication options. Based on John & Amanda Neal's combined 678,000 and 83 years' experience. A free handout details this seminar.

7. Diesel Engine Essentials with Amanda
Amanda Swan Neal will guide you through the six essential components of diesel engines giving you a good understanding of how engines work and how to troubleshoot and care for them based on her 38 years of going to sea. A free handout highlights the essential points and resources of this seminar.

8. Secrets of Successful Cruising
John & Amanda will share how-to tips and knowledge to help you prepare for your own successful cruising adventures, whether to Mexico, the South Pacific, Caribbean or Europe. They will also share highlight and disasters from their favorite cruising destinations around the world, based on their combined 678,000 and 83 years of experience.

9. Worldwide Anchoring Techniques
John and Amanda Neal detail six specific anchoring techniques necessary for Mediterranean, tropical, high-latitude and temperate cruising based on their extensive worldwide experience spanning 40 years and over 350,000 miles. With the knowledge gained from this seminar detailed in a six-page handout, you'll be able to safely anchor anywhere in the world, avoiding the costly mistakes they have made.

10. Seasickness: Conquering and Eliminating It!
What really works; based on John Neal's systematic research conducted over 40 years while sailing 343,000 miles with 1200 sailors from Cape Horn to the Arctic. Free taste tests of a new anti-seasickness nutrition bar and a detailed handout are included.

11. Seamanship
John and Amanda Neal detail the skills and fundamentals that lead to confidence, self-reliance and awareness before departure, at sea, while making landfall and at anchor. Seamanship relates to every aspect of boating. Highlights and resources are documented in a free handout.

12. Getting Started in the Cruising Life: How Women Learn Differently
Discover what you'll need to know to be comfortable and competent on the water based on the four-part series Cruising World magazine commissioned Amanda Swan Neal to write. Amanda will help you acknowledge the adjustments of a major lifestyle change, identify common concerns and fears while giving insights on how to master the cruising life. A three-page handout expands on the objectives and lists resources.

13. Sails: A-Z of Cruising Sails
Sails - the quiet, powerful wind-driven engines that carry you to the destinations you've dreamed of are critical equipment for an offshore cruising sailboat. The quality of sails you start cruising with will greatly affect your boat's performance as well your time and money. Amanda Swan Neal guides you through choosing a sailmaker, sail design and construction, offshore inventory and how to maximize sailing performance. Downwind and storm sail options and the most common sail repairs will also be detailed. A 15-page handout is available. Amanda was the first women to complete New Zealand's four-year sail making apprenticeship and has worked as a sailmaker in NZ, Australia (America's Cup) and the UK.

14. Galley Essentials with Amanda
The Essential Galley Companion author and 48 North magazine's monthly culinary columnist shares her recent Atlantic offshore galley adventures, showing you how to excel in provisioning, organizing, cooking and entertaining aboard. Amanda's 300,000 miles and 38 years' sea experience includes cooking for 45 trainees aboard square-riggers, surviving the nine-month Whitbread Around the World Race on freeze-dried food and dishing up ginger crunch for the Cape Horn lighthouse keepers.

15. Splicing: Mastering Three-Strand Eye Splicing
In this hands-on seminar with written and PowerPoint illustrations, Whitbread Race rigger Amanda Swan Neal will guide you through the art of eye-splicing with individual instruction. You'll take home your completed splice and directions enabling you to utilize this important skill aboard your own boat.

16. Mastering the Turk's Head Knot
Amanda Swan Neal has taught hundreds of sailors worldwide the ancient skill of mastering the Turk's head. This iconic, decorative knot can mark the king spoke of your wheel, adorn the end of your tiller or be used to create a nautical bracelet. All materials will be provided and you'll take home your completed Turk's head and written instructions.


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Mahina Expeditions
P.O. BOX 1596
Friday Harbor, WA. USA 98250
PHONE (360) 378-6131
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