Seminar Graduates Comments
"Very manageable packets of information on which you alternate between psychological, technical topics and slides of cruising voyages. Nice mixture of speakers."
"Truly terrific - An invaluable collection of advice form a large experience base."
"I've attended lots of seminars - this is on of the best overall! I liked the pace, the information packed sessions, the visuals and variety of presenters. You thought of everything. Thanks."
"John & Amanda,
Here we are in beautiful Hilo enroute to New Zealand for the
new year and the America's Cup. The information from your seminar
was truly a "Religious Experience". We hadn't planned
to do this until right after your class - when we dropped everything
and began the vigorous task of buying a boat, outfitting it and
going to more classes. Thanks for the enlightenment."
- Jeanne & Dan
"Enjoyed the seminar this weekend immensely, a HUGE THANKS
to you and Amanda. When asked my reactions, the best way that I could think of to
explain the seminar was to say that you never talked down to anyone, even
given your depth of knowledge and experience it was as though you were simply
lending a hand talking to a group of fellow cruisers."
"Hi John & Amanda,
I just wanted to let you know how much Grace Li and I enjoyed
your seminar here in San Francisco. I'm so happy that you take
the trouble to come down here and visit us and
give us the learning opportunity. I learned more the second time
around than the first, now that I have some experience owning
a boat and have done some cruising on the Pacific coast
I have a much better appreciation for the details presented in
the class. Everything in the seminar seems very pertinent and
useful. The first time I took the seminar was a few years back
when I was just starting to look at buying a boat.
The information you gave made a pretty big change in my mind in the type of boat
I was looking for. I certainly made a much more informed decision
about what type of boat to get. The biggest change came about
from the point you made about the importance of sailing performance.
I spent quite a bit of time looking at performance specifications
on different boats, which is surprisingly easy to come by from
the U.S. Sailing Association. I ended up with a Norseman 447
which even though quite heavy, does sail fairly well.
been very happy with my purchase, I can't think of any boat that
suits me more. If one exists, I haven't heard of it."
I took your seminar in Burlingame in the spring of 1995. Three
years later I quit my job, got married, and cast off the dock
lines! You were right about the "laundry challenge"!;
our most used piece of equipment is the Bendix washer/dryer.
It was great to see you in Moorea, and who knows where we'll
Rick and Melonie
"Well organized, very educational and completely professional.
. . worth much more than it costs. . . I would highly recommend
it for anyone planning to cruise. . ."
S&T O, San Jose, CA
"We attended your seminar in Spring of 1997. We have made
2 incredible passages since. What a pleasure to meet you at Rangiroa
atoll, Tuamotus. I had literally been reading your Offshore
Cruising Companion, when Bill pointed out a HR coming in
under sail - who else but you! Was thrilled to see our boat in
your selection of worthy boats.. And she has served us well!
- Leslie and Bill Senn
When I was 14 years old, I came down with this disease that afflicts
some of us and that is sailing my own boat to faraway places.
At that time I set my goal for Tahiti. (Where lese!) It took
me a few years to reach the goal, but here I sit in Papeete with
my own boat tied to the Quai.
Anyway, it is in great part because
of you that my wife and I did it. First, the weekend seminar
we took in Friday Harbor gave us the basic "book" knowledge
we needed. Then the two weeks sailing in the Societies gave us
the practical experience and courage to do it.
Thank you so much for your training, encouragement and friendship
you have given us. You are a big part of our living our dream."
-Chris and Bobbi Brown
"Hello John and Amanda,
Just thought we would drop you a quick note to say hello from
French Polynesia. I think we crossed each other somewhere along
the equator as we were heading from Hawaii to Tuamotus and you
were heading North.
We just want to thank you both for all the information you are
so generous in giving to other trying to throw the lines and
just leave. Life has gotten much easier now that we have left
the states; now it's just boat chores, snorkeling and enjoying
-Tori & Dixie
Can't tell you how much we enjoyed the weekend. You two and everyone else
did an A+ job. We don't plan to start cruising for another 5
years but what we learned at the symposium will be very helpful
as we make preparations and decisions during the next few years.
We also plan to follow your log during your cruise to Europe.
Gary and Janet Eerkes
"Enjoyed course, and we're doing it!"
David Sapiane & Patricia Dallas
John and Amanda-
You were right! The newly revised symposium is quite an improvement
over the one we took four years ago, which we found very beneficial
then. Thanks for sharing the dream, stoking the embers and, especially,
for the dose of reality.
By the way, we met Jose F. and got his perspective on the HR36.
Mike Locatell was also quite helpful.
Jim and Judy
s/v Pacific Dream
Hi John and Amanda!
Just wanted to say how much Pat and I
enjoyed the seminar; we really learned tons and it was worth
Our hats are off to you on one of the best organized
two days either of us have ever been to either professionally
or in our private lives, plus you are both truly delightful,
down to earth people and it was a great pleasure to get
to know you.
Thanks for a great weekend!! We are anxious to keep
in touch so we will drop a note now and then and we hope our
paths will cross in the South Pacific in '02!!!
Doug and Pat Sterrett
Southern Cross 39
"What is most valuable, to
those of us who have not had 25 years of continuous cruising,
is Neal's judgement as to all aspects of what to watch out for,
what works and what doesn't, and overall perspective of how to
make the experience worthwhile and enjoyable."
-CH, Jr. & MB, Los Angeles, CA
"I . . . came away with a sound foundation for carrying
out a safe, healthy, offshore cruise"
-MC, Sunnyvale, CA
"We were delighted to see Mahina Tiare III sail into Maeva
Beach anchorage Tahiti. Now we could thank you in person for
the great offshore cruising course we had taken in Seattle in
Fall of 1995. Your Offshore Cruising
Companion has been very useful as a quick review when we
encounter challenges underway. We found the sections on realistic
expectations and psychological aspects of cruising weather, sail
repair, medical, and priority equipment particularly helpful.
It has been a joy to be out here cruising."
Jerry & Kathy Manifold
"Hi John and Amanda,
I just wanted to drop a line to thank you for the great seminar
I really had a great time and learned quite a lot; as a novice
sailor, unlike my partner Tony, it was a great opportunity to
get exposed to all aspects of sailing. The biggest gain of this
weekend was that I met both of you, who made our trip plan across
the pacific doable! It is so hard to get out of our busy days
and to spend time to get ready for the cruising trip, but by
meeting you, now we are more motivated and focused on what we
ought to do to make our trip come true.
Tony and I are planning to leave in Fall, joining Baja-haha trip,
then head across the Pacific. Australia and Japan were in our
plan but New Zealand was not, until we met you; we now are looking
into New Zealand. You made it sound like the country is a great
place to visit!
Again, thank you very much, and we hope to see you sometime soon."
We just want to let all of you know about the wonderful experience
that we both had this past weekend at the Mahina Tiare Expeditions
Cruising Seminar that John Neal and Amanda Swan-Neal presented
in South San Francisco on February 12th and 13th.
First of all, the presenters were all first rate, and obviously
well prepared as well as knowledgeable. It is really refreshing
to have someone show-up for a seminar who has put some thought
and effort into their presentation. Equally important,
their printed materials were well organized, easily understood,
and, significantly, were interesting and enjoyable to read; they
really held our interest and continue to do so. But perhaps
most importantly, both John and Amanda really communicated not
only a sense of joy in being able to cruise to differing destinations,
but they also imparted a tangible sense of confidence that the
dream is an attainable reality.
When we left the seminar
Sunday afternoon, we left with a sense that we had not only really
learned a great deal but also a sense that an extended period
of cruising in approximately three years was our reality!
-Tim & Melisse Cronin
Hi John & Amanda,
Just to let you know how impressed I
am with the results of the sail training expedition my wife Jan
spent with you in Fiji.
We picked up our new boat in Marathon,
Florida last week. On the first sail Jan took charge of the helm,
got us away from the dock under power, we hoisted main &
jib and tacking to windward we went. Then we fell off on a broad
reach, did a little wing & wing downwind work, and then decided
to anchor for lunch. After lunch we motored over to top off fuel
and then returned to our slip. Everytime I asked Jan if she wanted
me to take the helm for a while she said no way, she was having
To sum things up Jan's sailing skills are much improved
and level of self confidence is fantastic. Your course is the
best investment I could have made to ensure a successful cruising
adventure for us over the next ten years.
Hi John and Amanda-- Gregg and I just returned from a week in
Puerta Vallarta. As we plan on being
there for Christmas on ANGEL this year, we thought we should
go down and "research" the hotel
situation and find a place for my Mom and kids to come and join
us for the holiday.
We had a much
needed rest and the sun and sea were heaven! We were able to
spend an afternoon and evening with
george and Nina Deane on their boat, CONVICTION, and we then
took them to dinner. Had a great time!
They are VERY happy with their new cruising life and shared some
insights with us about what to expect the first couple of months. (They met several couples whoever
made it past San Diego because of relationship problems!) We enjoyed seeing their boat and it always
amazes us how different people have different cruising "styles".
Amanda, I took the cookbook you gave me at the seminar to give to Nina,
then like a doofus left it in my duffle in the hotel, and as they were leaving the next morning, was
unable to give it to her! Dang. Two nights later we met Dan & Debi Dinsmore. Had a fun night out with
them and Gregg and Dan could compare notes on our "sisterships".
They followed us back tour hotel and I then gave the cookbook to Debi- she was in a glee about it!
Karl Buhl has taken an apartment in San Diego and won't be aboard ANDANTE full time, just flying in for
the "highlights", leaving Dan and Deb
in charge. Nice situation for them, I'd say!!!
I really enjoyed being at the seminar in February. You guys have really put together a nice program-- your speaking abilities compliment one another and make the venue really interesting, and I truly never intended on staying for the whole day but found myself sitting in my little chair like a sponge, taking it all much
more seriously than three years ago!!!
Picked up lots of tips to boot! I wanted to share a couple of things that I thought you might find interesting... (Besides the number of people who thought my name really is Cindy Lou)....The first two people who asked me questions were men, not women. One was already feeling guilty about leaving his teen aged son (who will be in college when his dad takes off cruising). He wanted to know how Gregg and I were handling those feelings, etc. The other fellow wanted to know my feelings about aging and health issues, because that was what was concerning his wife and keeping her from a 'thumbs up' to the whole idea. Then several women approached me on the issue of loved ones dying, illness in the family, etc., And seemed really eager to be able to express their concerns and fears.
During lunch, everyone at the table was sharing thoughts ranging from the self-imposed
guilt of being what some would call "irresponsible" when one just up and quits their job
and sails into the sunset, to wondering whether or not they should hang on to their homes. (You know, at this stage of my life, I figure that most of these uncomfortable feelings - guilt, pain, fear, discouragement,
grief, et al- are part of life and will happen in varying degrees whether or not you're on a boat,
and frankly, I'd just as soon be on the boat!) So all in all, it was great talking to those folks
and helping them to acknowledge that the LETTING GO is an important part of cruising preparation. (I almost
get to check that item off our 'boat list'!).
Gregg and I were interested to hear that you're getting bow thrusters! Hooray! I don't
think I could dock our boat at Elliot Bay without 'em cuz the fairways are so darned narrow, and they've saved the day a couple of times in docking situations up north in strong currents! (But there is many a sailor who will sneer at you and turn up their nose when they hear those things a' goin'!)
It was great to see you guys! Your boat looked beautiful at the show, Amanda, your book is FABULOUS
(and it's so fun to see it in stores now!), your seminar was
great, your web page is fantastic.
you for being such an inspiration to future cruisers, and so
encouraging to Gregg and me!