John Neal 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' sloop. Log of Mahina chronicled his voyage and adventures and became a best seller. To answer the question he was frequently asked, "How can I do what you did?” he conducted his first of now 156 Offshore Cruising Seminars in 1976. In 1990, to meet the demand 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 & his Hallberg-Rassy 46, Mahina Tiare III, sailing 332,000 miles in the South Pacific, Caribbean, Patagonia, Antarctica, Atlantic, Scandinavia and the Arctic. John holds a USCG 100 ton Master’s License.
Amanda Swan Neal grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and sailed to 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 290,000 miles of international 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. Upon meeting John in 1994 she joined Mahina Tiare for the Cape Horn and Antarctic expeditions. 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 annually. When not at sea, they enjoy winter kayaking from their island home near Victoria.
Magazines Contributed to: Blue Water Sailing, Australian Yachting, Cruising World, Yachting World (UK),Cruising Helmsman (Australia), 48 North, Latitude 38, SAIL 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)
Books Contributed to: World Voyage Planner, World Cruising Survey by Jimmy Cornell, Surviving the Storm by Steve Dashew, Voyager’s Handbook by Beth A. Leonard, Fifty Places to Sail Before You Die by Chris Santella. Sharks of Polynesia, by Richard H. Johnson.
Areas of Experience: Caribbean, Mexico, Atlantic including Azores, Canaries, and Madeira, Patagonia (Chile and Argentina), Cape Horn (six roundings), Antarctica, Brazil, Uruguay, Pacific including Galapagos, Easter, Pitcairn, Fr. Polynesia, Cooks, Samoa, Tonga, Wallis, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Alaska, British Columbia. Europe including the Med, Ireland, England, Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, Norway, Spitsbergen, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Spain and Portugal.