John Neal

I was born on the banks of Africa’s Blue Nile River and my ocean sailing experience started in 1974 when at age 22 I set sail from Seattle, sailing my Vega 27 sloop 15,000 miles through the South Pacific, part of the time singlehanded. Log of the Mahina, the book I wrote chronicling those adventures became a bestseller and I’ve since authored, co-authored or contributed to an additional 17 books and over 150 magazine articles.

I’ve also enjoyed working as a consultant, a writer or on film crews for National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Disney, NOAA and Office of Naval Research.

I’ve accumulated 400,000 offshore miles ranging from Australia to Africa, Antarctica, Svalbard and the Med while sharing my passion for ocean sailing. When not at sea I enjoy kayaking, flying, trail running, cycling, skiing, swimming and yoga. I currently hold USCG 100-ton master and FAA private pilot licenses.

From 1990 to 1996 I owned and operated Mahina Tiare II, a Hallberg-Rassy 42, as a sail-training vessel sailing 70,000 miles while leading expeditions to the South Pacific, Patagonia, Antarctica and rounding Cape Horn six times.

From 1994 to 2021 Amanda Swan (Neal) and I jointly ran Mahina Expeditions. In July 2021 Amanda relocated to New Zealand where she is now a sailing instructor at Great Escape in Opua.

Mahina Tiare III, a Hallberg-Rassy 46, was built for these expeditions and launched in 1997 and until COVID in 2020 we sailed over 230,000 with over 1,150 expedition members.

In 2020 Amanda and I ran 4 expeditions with 6 crew in the Pacific NW sailing offshore and back aboard a Jeanneau 45.1.

In 2021 I conducted 10 expeditions aboard Obelix, a Garcia Exploration 45 and one aboard Misty, all sailing from Bellingham out into the Pacific.

2022 was an exciting season, starting with four 10-day expeditions in Scotland aboard an Elan 434, followed by two expeditions aboard Obelix, the Garcia Exploration 45 sailing from Alaska to Haida Gwaii and a first for me, the West Coast of Vancouver Island, followed by three additional Pacific forays aboard the Garcia.

2023 expeditions included a wide range of experience options starting with another four Scottish Isles expeditions, followed by a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island (two expeditions). The capper of 2023 will be two New Zealand training expeditions.

In 2024 I’m offering four 10-day training expeditions in the Scottish Islands. This is one of my favorite sailing areas in the world and is an unbeatable training ground.

Magazines Contributed:

Blue Water Sailing, Australian Yachting, Cruising World, Yachting World (UK), Yachting Monthly (UK), Cruising Helmsman (Australia), Seilas (Norway), 48 North, Latitude 38, SAIL, Ocean Navigator and Practical Sailor.

Books Authored:

 Log of the Mahina, Mahina Tiare, Pacific Passages, Offshore Cruising Companion, Offshore Expedition Companion, Storm Survival Tactics.

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, NOAA PVS Safety Manual, Fifty Places to Sail Before You Die by Chris Santella, The Annapolis Book of Seamanship by John Rousmaniere, Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Handbook by Nigel Calder, Charlie’s Charts of Polynesia by Charlie Woods, The Essential Galley Companion by Amanda Swan Neal, Diesel Engine Essentials by Amanda Swan Neal.

Areas of Experience:

Caribbean, Mexico, Panama (six Canal transits), Atlantic including Azores, Canaries, and Madeira, Patagonia (Chile and Argentina), Cape Horn (six roundings), Antarctica (as far south as the ice cap), Pacific including Hawaii, 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, Morocco, England, Scotland, Orkney, Shetland, Norway, Spitsbergen (as far north as the ice cap), Jan Mayen, Bear Island, Sweden, Iceland, Faroes, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Spain and Portugal.

Gio & Julie Cappelli

Gio & Julie Cappelli are graduates of SVC’s Marine Maintenance Technology Program who completed a Mahina offshore sail training expedition with John in the Pacific Northwest and recently returned from a 10,000-mile loop sailing from Mexico to Hawaii, and Hawaii to British Columbia aboard their Malö 39. 

Gio is ABYC certified in diesel engines and marine systems and previously worked as a fishery biologist and motorboat operator instructor. Julie is ABYC certified in marine electrical, a NMEA certified marine electronics installer, and NMEA 2000 installer and has worked as a scuba instructor, marine biologist, and expedition leader. Both hold USCG 25-ton Masters licenses. They have backgrounds in marine biology and fisheries and are keen to share their knowledge about the ocean, cruising, and boat maintenance. Julie organizes and produces offshore cruising presentations and corresponding materials for Mahina workshops, boat shows, and seminars.