Mahina Expeditions are exciting offshore sail-training experiences that include mastering seamanship, navigation, and heavy weather tactics.
Since 1989 I’ve sailed over 408,000 miles leading 289 sail-training expeditions worldwide and have developed a unique training program with the goal of preparing you for ocean cruising on your own boat.

You Are Offered…

  • The opportunity to increase your confidence and safety level by gaining a 100-mile overnight passage and the practice of storm sailing tactics.
  • The chance to be actively involved in all aspects of operating and maintaining a modern ocean-cruising boat including steering and standing watches, sail trim and reefing, anchoring, provisioning, meal preparation, cleaning and vessel repair and maintenance.
  • A training experience designed to help you determine if this lifestyle is for you. Following the completion of your expedition you will have the knowledge to make better informed decisions regarding purchasing and outfitting your own boat. You’ll also receive a certificate documenting your experience and training which should help towards qualifying you for offshore insurance.

You Will Be Provided With . . .

  • Three to six hours of dedicated, focused, hands-on instruction (link to Offshore Sail Training Objectives further down) per day.
  • Couples get a private cabin, singles will share a cabin.
  • An Expedition Companion (116-pages) documenting all aspects of instruction and the Offshore Cruising Companion (265-pages) documenting all aspects of cruising.
  • A commitment to answer all your questions and concerns relating to ocean voyaging.
  • A stimulating and exciting learning environment designed to help you master heavy weather storm sailing techniques, coastal, celestial and electronic navigation and boat handling.
  • Three healthy, balanced and nutritious meals daily utilizing regional flavors and local ingredients when possible.

My Goal…

I endeavor to go beyond limits and expectations to present the best opportunity for people motivated to master ocean voyaging skills in a safe and supportive environment, while having a positive impact on the places visited.

You should have at least intermediate sailing skills, know that you enjoy sailing and have completed a navigation course. Safe and enjoyable voyaging depends on everyone working together in all situations, some of which are strenuous and mentally demanding. It’s essential than everyone can perform all duties aboard, including standing while hand steering (we don’t use an autopilot) and working on deck in challenging conditions. If you exercise daily, enjoy outdoor activities, are comfortable in and on the water, are in good mental health and are not significantly overweight you’ll be an asset on board. Expedition members come from many countries and backgrounds. This is not a macho adventure; women are equal and valued participants. The training is catered to different styles of learning; either tactile with hands-on repetition such as tucking in a reef, charting, setting the anchor, etc or conceptual/technical learning with explanation, documentation and procedures.

An excellent idea before joining us for an expedition is to upgrade your sailing knowledge level. We recommend you start with NauticEd’s two free courses, Rules of the Road and Sail Trim and strongly consider completing their Captain Rank which includes coastal navigation, safety at sea, weather, anchoring, electronic navigation and more.

Another option for learning coastal navigation remotely is Maryland School of Seamanship’s on-line nav courses and webinar. Having had several of MSS grads join us on expeditions, we know that Tom Tursi and his crew do an excellent job.

At sea we follow serious safety rules, including the wearing of supplied auto-inflate harnesses, practice of Lifesling overboard procedures and abstinence from alcohol while aboard and a two-drink limit per day when ashore. No smoking or illegal drugs aboard or ashore. Daily cleaning and continual maintenance, when underway, assures that the vessel is safe and in first class condition. We request that personal electronic communication only be conducted when ashore out of courtesy to others and vessel safety.

  1. Email or call to verify the expedition you are interested has a berth available.
  2. Complete the application then call with Visa or MasterCard information for the $500 application deposit. Your charge will not be processed if the expeditions you requested are full or your application is declined.
  3. If accepted, your final payment will be due 15 days after the date on your acceptance letter if we are in the calendar year of your expedition or by January 1st of the calendar year of your expedition.

The cost of a Mahina Expeditions berth includes instruction, food, fuel, and moorage. It does not include your airfare, visas, meals ashore, personal expenses of any kind, or personal insurance.

A full refund will be provided if I receive written notification more than 150 days prior to departure, providing that I can re-book your berth.

I strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and trip cancellation insurance and recommend Dan Boater Insurance.


Mahina Expeditions are exciting offshore sail-training experiences that include mastering seamanship, navigation, and heavy weather tactics.
I’ve developed this unique training program with the goal of preparing you for coastal or ocean cruising on your own boat.

Safety Systems Checkout

  • Locate and practice donning of life jackets.
  • Safety harness; selection, fitting and protocol.
  • Deployment and use of high lifelines vs. deck jacklines.
  • Each person will individually practice Lifesling overboard rescue retrieval.
  • Discussion of equipment list for assembling your own survival packs.
  • Location and testing of all bilge pump systems and bilge high water alarm.
  • Location of thru-hull fittings and attached wooden plugs. Discussion of maintenance.
  • Discussion of fire emergency and location of fire extinguishers.
  • Location and use of emergency tiller.
  • Use and test of propane alarm and solenoid, safe use of stove and oven, and appropriate spares.
  • Review first aid kit and discuss inventory of Adventure Medical Marine kit. Discussion of prevention and treatment of medical problems common to cruisers in tropical and isolated waters.

On Deck Procedures

  • Raising, reefing and stowing mainsail including use of lazy jacks, vang and preventer.
  • Use of a furling and reefable headsail.
  • Demonstrate points of sail and sail trim.
  • Pre-departure, pre-passage and daily rigging checks including chafe prevention.
  • Demonstrate properly belaying a line to a cleat, coiling short and long lines, bowline, reef knot, slippery hitch and figure eight knots.
  • Steering by compass and stars during night watch.
  • Working safely aloft. Each person may go aloft at anchor or in port with a safety line attached.
  • Location of spare rigging and fittings. Emergency rigging repair procedures.
  • Sail repair: sewing sailcloth with palm and needle and discussion sewing machines and sail repair kit.
  • Become a knowledgeable and competent watch stander


  • Chart selection and organization. Selecting best nationality of chart to cover a specific area.
  • Use of BA and US Chart #1, Sailing Directions, Light List, and Cruising Guides.
  • Navigation using plotting on paper charts.
  • Determining course, distance, VMG and ETA.
  • Coastal Navigation: plotting courses and determining dead reckoning positions, depths, dangers, currents and obstructions.
  • Electronic Navigation: Use both MFD and laptop charting systems, discussion of accuracy of charts relative to GPS positions.
  • Use of radar and AIS for collision avoidance, landfall and squall avoidance.
  • Celestial Navigation: Use and calibration of a sextant, shooting, reducing and plotting a LAN.
  • Tides: learn how to utilize powerful tidal currents.

Boat Systems Checkout

  • Survey of battery charging and monitoring systems. Discussion of alternative power options.
  • Use, maintenance and servicing a marine diesel engine and outboard engine.
  • Spare parts: engine, outboard, electrical, refrigeration watermaker. What you should carry on your boat.
  • Use and maintenance of electric watermakers.
  • Use, cleaning and maintenance of marine heads.
  • Provisioning in foreign ports and stowage of food goods. Meal planning and cooking underway.

Storm Sailing Techniques

  • Discuss use of storm staysail, running backstays and storm trysail.
  • Practice heaving to, deploy tow warps astern.
  • Discussion of deployment of Galerider drogue and Para-Tech sea anchor.
  • Discuss Queen’s Birthday storm results and most effective storm management techniques for different hull designs and sea conditions.
  • Discuss preparation for storm conditions: storm sails, bilge and pumps, deck and cockpit, batteries, meals, and sleep.


  • Review sources of marine weather: VHF, SSB, Weather fax, Navtex, GRIB files, Windy.com, PredictWind.com and airports.
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify and explain the weather features.
  • Review overall cruise planning: cyclone seasons, use of Pilot Charts, World Cruising Routes.
  • Study overall prevailing world weather systems and predicting and gauging surface current and drift.
  • Review the effect of El Nino and La Nina on world cruising areas.


  • Use of VHF radio for weather forecasts, communication and distress.
  • Discussion of various communication options for long distance cruisers.
  • Dealing with officialdom in foreign ports: health, customs, immigration, port authorities.


  • Selecting best type of anchor and rode for varying conditions.
  • Calculating scope and diameter of swing.
  • Identifying best location for least contact with sea grass, coral or rocks.
  • Setting a second bow anchor.
  • Safe use of electric windlass, use of manual back-up feature.
  • Marking and stowing chain and use of a chain snubber.